, , ,

We’re Right Here


The UK is one of the most centralised advanced democracies – and it’s time that changed. As a nation, we also have one of the most regionally unequal economies in the world: a symptom of our centralised model, not a reason for more top-down decision making. So what can be done about it?

According to a Local Government Association (LGA) survey, nearly 1-in-5 councils believe it is “fairly or very likely” that they will go bust in the next 12 months as funding fails to keep pace with inflationary costs. So, transferring more resources and fiscal powers to local authorities is an obvious and urgent place to start.

Across a whole range of challenges, putting power and resources into the hands of democratically elected local leaders delivers better outcomes and gives communities a greater opportunity to shape the future of their local areas. But don’t take my word for it: this is the conclusion of an inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Devolution.

But we have to think bigger and transfer some of these powers beyond government. Shifting powers to communities, so that we can shape the places where we live, could deliver even more benefits where they are most needed.

A proposed Community Power Act would do such a thing; if passed by Parliament, the Act would create a new law (or change existing ones) to establish three new rights:

A Community Right to Buy
There are some buildings and spaces in our communities that feel like they ‘belong’ to us. Places we already use, like green spaces, pubs or community centres – as well as those that have potential to be used by the community, such as derelict industrial sites or vacant high street shops. A Community Right to Buy would give us the right to buy those spaces without competition, and the time to raise the funds.

A Community Right to Shape Public Services
Our communities know what services are needed locally. A Community Right to Shape Public Services would give us more say by encouraging stronger collaboration between communities and public institutions on things like housing, education and local business policy. It would enable us to trigger a review of a service and be an equal partner in that process – helping to improve how the service is run.

A Community Right to Control Investment
Too often, our communities’ priorities are overlooked when it comes to investing in our areas. A Community Right to Control Investment would give us more control over spending decisions which affect our neighbourhoods, like those related to regeneration and renewable energy. We could request more insight into local spending and participate in shared decision making.

Given the scale of economic and social challenges ahead us in facing up to climate breakdown, Carbon Copy wholeheartedly supports the idea of more empowered, place-based leadership. That’s what big-thinking local action looks like and that’s why we are supporting a campaign for greater community powers.

If you can imagine some of these benefits where you live, please consider supporting the We’re Right Here campaign – particularly in this General Election year. It all boils down to the simple question of who decides. No one knows the place where you live better than you, so why let someone else decide?

Recommended from Carbon Copy

  • Taking The Baton
    Taking The Baton

    Phew! So glad to have participated in a 24km stage of the climate relay from Ben Nevis to Big Ben,…

  • No Time To Waste
    No Time To Waste

    Britain’s biggest climate relay has had a tremendous start and it’s a joy to hear in our Carbon Copy Podcast…