Counting the value of community involvement

"This toolkit will help councils to find the best ways to meaningfully engage their residents, for the benefit of communities and the local area."

Community action

LGA press release 27 October 2016

The Local Government Association has launched an online toolkit to help councils involve their residents in the design and delivery of the services that really matter to them.

As progress continues towards greater devolution of powers and funding to local government, it has never been more important to make sure that local people are at the heart of what councils do, with every penny spent on services and solutions that are right for individual areas.

Community action covers everything from involvement in neighbourhood planning, to supporting communities to take a more active role in health and well-being, or even encouraging community groups to take ownership of public services.

Councils will be looking to increase their community action work as one of many tools that they can use to deal with the difficult financial future that they are facing. The guidance, tool and case studies can help them to increase their activity in this area.

The toolkit, available at www.local.gov.uk/community-action, includes tips on effective working and what questions both councillors and officers need to ask as initiatives are developed; case studies to show where community action is working well already; and a new tool to help councils pinpoint the financial value of community engagement in addition to the wider social benefits.

Cllr William Nunn, Chair of the LGA's Improvement and Innovation Board, said:

"Councils are keenly aware of the importance of community action to deliver the best services for residents' needs. However, with the increasing need for savings, along with less staff in back office functions where councils have fought to protect the services that impact most directly on residents, it can sometimes be hard to justify spending or extra staff time on intensive engagement, or on projects that don't have a clear immediate payback.

"However, that initial outlay of time and money can reap significant rewards further down the line, whether that's through reducing demand for services, making better and more efficient use of assets, or helping communities to be more self-sufficient and resilient. This toolkit will help councils to find the best ways to meaningfully engage their residents, for the benefit of communities and the local area."