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£4.3 million boost to put communities in control

Communities Minister Don Foster announces £4.3 million of new financial support

This support will enable at least 100 communities to design and deliver local services that focus on local priorities and reduce costs.

The expansion of the ‘Our Place’ programme builds on the success of the Neighbourhood Community Budget Pilots that for the past year have been pioneering bold and innovative ways to improve local services in 12 areas. Putting communities firmly in the driving seat, they have brought together local government, service providers, the voluntary sector, and business to help young people get work, support ‘just coping’ families, reduce anti-social behaviour and find new ways to give people with long term health conditions a better quality of life.

The 12 pilots range from inner cities and suburbs, to housing estates and small towns. They have all taken very different approaches, but all of them have seen partners working together to tackle the issues which matter most locally.

The Our Place! summary report (PDF, 823 KB) published today highlights the work of the 12 pilots and shows what local people can do when given the chance.

In Poplar in London, volunteers aim to save the NHS a potential £4 million over 5 years by promoting healthy lifestyles and improving treatment of those at risk of diabetes. Around 50 Health Champions will recruit local people to become health trainers, supporting people with long-term conditions.

In Balsall Heath, Birmingham, police officers and the community are developing fortnightly street patrols with residents, and priority policing actions to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour. Their analysis has shown that at a cost of £35,000 per year, over 5 years, potential benefits of over £500,000 could be produced.

In Ilfracombe, Devon, “One Ilfracombe” is working with its district council to transfer a £1 million budget, alongside an aligned budget from health, Jobcentre Plus, police, fire, housing and councils to work with the private sector and community to improve the health, economy, and living environment for local people.

Don Foster speaking at the Team White City project in West London.
Don Foster speaking at the Team White City project in West London.

Speaking at the Team White City project in West London where residents are in the process of setting up a new social enterprise aimed at improving health, social well-being, skills and education, Communities Minister Don Foster said:

Neighbourhoods are the building blocks that make our communities tick and by putting them at the heart of decision making they are improving not just the quality of services, but also making them more responsive to local needs.

We know there’s a real appetite out there for people to volunteer and for local government, the voluntary sector and business to actively engage. And as the 12 pilot programmes have proved with a bit of support, encouragement and advice, community-led approaches can successfully tackle local issues and deliver real results.

This further investment will help build a popular movement towards of a new way of working. Handing control of local public services over to local communities who know their areas best can deliver more and better for less help create more resilient and involved communities and build neighbourhoods that are better places to live.

Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd said:

It is very exciting to hear about achievements of the Neighbourhood Community Budget pilots and I am really encouraged to see that volunteering is being built into delivering better public services – stretching spend at a neighbourhood level. We need to continue to ensure that communities are able to access the whole range of support made available by the government, and I’m delighted to see that a local organisation has successfully applied to host community organisers for the Sherwood estate which is one of the Neighbourhood Community Budget pilot areas.

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said:

The idea of communities watching out for each other goes hand in hand with the safety net and essential care and support that the NHS and local government provides.

Schemes such as the ‘Our Place’ programme are about enhancing and complementing formal arrangements. They allow us look beyond just government action and instead focus on what role communities can play in tackling the issues that matter most to them.

Local Government Association Chairman Sir Merrick Cockell said:

Giving local areas more say in how public services are designed and delivered improves those services and saves money. This approach is already working in a number of areas across the country on issues as diverse as promoting healthy lifestyles and tackling antisocial behaviour. The expansion of the programme to new areas is welcome.

Neighbourhood Community Budgets are an important part of the drive to take power out of Whitehall and place in in the hands of people and communities. A cornerstone of this process must be ensuring that new structures are still subjected to appropriate democratic oversight and accountability at a local level. This process of rewiring services around the people who use them should be emulated across the whole of the public sector.

In addition to supporting another 100 neighbourhoods to get started, the expansion of the Our Place! programme will also set up a network of champions drawn widely from the pilots and from all sectors, to provide peer to peer support and advice.

The new £4.3 million investment also sits alongside a further £350,000 support for the existing pilots, to help accelerate and enhance the implementation of their programmes.

Councillor Marcus Ginn, Cabinet Member for Community Care said:

I am delighted to welcome Don Foster MP to White City today, to see exactly how this Neighbourhood Community Budget is having such a positive impact on the lives of local people.

Team White City is all about bringing local people on-board so that they have a greater say on how local services are funded and delivered.

Hammersmith and Fulham is the borough of opportunity and by giving local people a bigger voice we are making it easier for them to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities on the horizon for White City.