Building cohesive communities can only be successful with an in-depth understanding of that locality. Councils’ position at the heart of their communities, provides them with a unique vantage point and the knowledge needed to respond, and build resilience, to integration challenges, alongside local partners.
- We welcome the publication of the Green Paper and the opportunity to feedback on its proposals. Building cohesive communities and helping to shape the environments in which communities flourish lie at the core of councils’ day to day business, and the Strategy rightly acknowledges the importance of locally-led approaches.
- We support the broad objectives of the Strategy. However, for many of the proposals there is little detail about how the objectives will be achieved. More importantly, while it acknowledges a range of issues around areas key to achieving cohesive communities, such as education, housing, skills and growth, it stops short of setting out what is needed to enable councils to address them. We accept the call for local government to be bolder about tackling difficult cohesion issues. But this must be matched by a genuine commitment from central government to do the same. Government must capitalise fully on this opportunity to tackle a range of issues if the Strategy is to truly achieve its aims.
- Local government has seen a successive removal of powers over three decades, with the key areas referenced above managed or constrained by Whitehall. This approach has failed many of our communities, as the challenges cited in the Casey review into Integration and Opportunity highlighted. Central government has a clear role to play in addressing this, but the starting point must be to further empower local areas and councils to respond.
- Councils continue to face significant funding challenges after years of unprecedented reductions, with an overall funding gap of £5.8 billion anticipated by 2020. This has had a considerable impact across service areas and substantially affected councils’ work, both directly and indirectly, around the cohesion agenda. Further devolution of powers to local government must be matched by sufficient and long-term investment in order to tackle the complex and deep-seated issues that undermine cohesion.
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Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper - LGA response