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The BIG Society Building a Stronger Civil Society. Simon Adams Head of Community Leadership Worcestershire County Council. The Big Society is:. A major change in how we all think About public services About local problems About disadvantage. A huge shift in power & responsibilities.

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the big society building a stronger civil society

The BIG SocietyBuilding a Stronger Civil Society

Simon Adams

Head of Community Leadership

Worcestershire County Council

the big society is
The Big Society is:

A major change in how we all think

  • About public services
  • About local problems
  • About disadvantage
a huge shift in power responsibilities
A huge shift in power & responsibilities

Astronger civil society

The ‘demand side’-

Stimulating the formation of social capital and support social action to take up and use this power

Decentralisation & transparency

The ‘supply side’, pushing power outwards from the centre to localities, communities, families and people

what does this entail
What does this entail?
  • Social Action

Culture change to influence peoples daily choices

  • Public Service Reform

Giving professionals more freedom & involving new providers eg VS & SE

  • Community Empowerment

Neighbourhoods who feel in charge of their own destinies

why decentralisation
Why decentralisation?
  • People and communities have greater control over the services in their locality
  • Diversity in local approaches releases innovation in public services - speed & resilience
  • Front line professionals respond to local preferences, with fewer constraints from the centre
  • People can hold local services & institutions to account more effectively than Whitehall.
government will not use a one size fits all approach to decentralisation
Government will not use a “one size fits all” approach to decentralisation!

Must change happen everywhere?






Must the centre specify the approach used?




Elected police commissioners

London Mayor




Free Schools


Burdens, barriers and rights- Remove unnecessary legislation, targets & central prescription- Unlock the potential of communities to take action

  • CAA
  • Review of secondary legislation
  • Regional Spatial Strategies
  • Home Information Packs
  • Big Society Vanguards
  • Community Right to Buy
  • Right to Challenge
  • Community Right to Build
  • Community Plans

Resources and the supply side- Greater local control of resources & budgets- Open up opportunities for new suppliers to provide public services

  • Removal of ring-fencing
  • Replace council tax capping with referenda
  • New Homes Bonus scheme
  • Community budgets
  • GP Commissioning
  • Free Schools
  • Right to Challenge
  • Mutuals / employee cooperatives

Transparency and accountability- Ensure citizens have the information they need to make decisions about services and hold providers & representatives to account- Give citizens the power of individual choice, where this is not feasible strengthen collective accountability

  • CLG spend data
  • Local Govt spend data
  • The Combined Online Information System
  • Enhancing choice in social care, health & education
  • Referenda on local issues
  • Elected police commissioners
  • Directly elected mayors in 12 cities
building the big society some actions
Building the Big Society - some actions
  • Social Action
    • National Citizen Service
    • ‘Civic Service’
    • Giving & Philanthropy
  • Public Service Reform
    • Right to ‘spin out’
    • Support for mutuals, charities, social enterprises, co-operatives
  • Community Empowerment
    • Right to save local amenities
    • Support community organisers & groups
    • Reform of planning
building the big society some more actions
Building the Big Society – some more actions
  • Decentralisation
    • Devolution to Local Government
    • General power of competence
    • Return powers on planning & housing
  • Transparency
    • Right to ‘data’
    • Publishing local crime statistics
  • Providing Finance
    • Move towards payment by results where possible
    • Big Society Bank

Restoring personal and social responsibility: role of citizens and communities

  • Playing an active role in civic life
  • Holding service providers and politicians to account
  • Looking out for neighbours and the vulnerable
  • Identifying opportunities for self-help and community responsibility
  • Taking over the running of community assets

We need to build on what is in place now Community and Voluntary Sector, and Social Enterprise

impacts on the voluntary and community sector
Impacts on the Voluntary and Community Sector
  • Strong commitment to the Big Society
  • Strong commitment to greater diversity of supply
  • Strong commitment to decentralisation and localism
  • Changing the balance of Power
  • Reductions in Government Spending
what charities community organisations and social enterprises can do
What charities, community organisations and social enterprises can do
  • Bring people together to identify needs and solve problems
  • Lead local activity, communicating what’s going on and how to get involved – and ask people directly
  • Create new opportunities that fit around modern lifestyles
  • Co-ordinate community events – let people know what’s going on and how they can get involved
  • Raise funds
  • Help communities to develop skills (e.g. fundraising) and confidence
  • Co-design and deliver services
what local government can do
What Local Government can do
  • Be accountable for decisions made locally
  • Think neighbourhoods
  • Facilitate more, deliver less
  • Commission for the longer term – community benefits
  • Target funding and support
  • Empower others
  • Devolve decisions to the frontline
what the state can do
What the state can do
  • Give power away – to local government, communities and citizens
  • Increase transparency and access to information
  • Remove barriers
  • Facilitate change (e.g. Big Society Bank, community organisers, community first )
  • Nudge in the right direction
  • Empower others (including through intermediaries and institutions)
  • Be the change we want to see (e.g. civic service for civil servants)