CamdenCEN produce a number of factsheets around the LSP, Community Strategy and other strategic structures. You can download them below:
If there are any other titles you would like to see please let us know.
In May, the Government unveiled new plans to make it easier to donate time and resources to charity. This CamdenCEN briefing looks at each of these new measures in more detail, including new developments for the support of infra-structure organisations. You can download the Giving white paper from the resources section of the CamdenCEN website.
CamdenCEN recently wrote an article to be published in the spring edition of Voluntary Matters (the newsletter of Voluntary Action Camden). The article takes a much closer look at the Localism Bill and the likely challenges and opportunities it presents.
On the 13th December 2010, the Localism Bill was presented to Parliament for its first reading. This briefing looks at the four main aspects of the Localism Bill- the government's legislative framework for a shift of power from central government to communities. You can track its progress through parliament using the link provided in the briefing.
This paper has been put together using feedback from voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations and from VCS members of strategic partnerships and groups in the borough on a future vision for the LSP.
The government has just published a Green Paper on the future approach to commissioning. This briefing looks at this paper and the options for responding.
Following the government Spending Review in October the council have published a new mid term financial strategy for Camden. This briefing provides an overview of this strategy, however the proposals are still subject to discussion in relation to the outcome of the Voluntary and Community Sector Review
This briefing summarises the main agenda items discussed at the LSP meeting on the 14th October. Key topics addressed were: Reshaping the Economic Development Partnership, Proposals for a new Sustainability Partnership, Proposals for strengthening Camden 's partnership arrangements, The government's health white paper and Camden 's response as well as other items pertaining to the agenda. More detailed information about the meeting is available on the meetings page
A summary of two recent government documents: 'Building a Stronger Civil Society' and 'Supporting a Stronger Civil Society'. Follow the links within the summary to download the full documents from the cabinet office.
Following the announcement of a detailed spending review in Camden, this briefing looks at some of the key points for the Voluntary and Community Sector.
This paper takes a look at government proposals to establish 'vanguard communities', the 'Big Society Bank' and the 'National Citizen Service'.
A month on from the announcement of the Big Society agenda, this paper looks at some of the proposals the government plans to introduce.
This paper looks at the Big Society in its early stages- what it is, what this means for the Voluntary and Community Sector as well as looking at 'who's who' in the new Camden council Labour cabinet.
The Sustainable Communities Act became law in October 2007. The Act was the result of a five year campaign run by Local Works, a coalition of 85 national organisations.
The Sustainable Communities Act aims to promote the sustainability of communities based on the principle that local people know best what needs to be done to promote sustainability and well-being. Local Works describes this as ‘changing our system of governance by setting up a new process where communities and their local authorities can drive central government policy and action on reversing community decline and promoting local sustainability.' The Act covers economic, social and environmental issues – within that broad scope there is no limit to the type of action that could be put forward. The Local Works website gives a number of suggestions for proposals. These include ways of supporting local post offices, promoting local and affordable housing and promoting small business through rate relief.
How does the Act work?
What's happening in Camden ?
Camden Council supports the aims of the Act but did not put forward a bid in the first round after being unable to establish a clear issue. The potential of the Act was discussed with Highgate Area Forum but residents were unable to identify issues that would make a suitable proposal. In Camden there is already a citizens panel (Camden Talks) where proposals can be discussed and agreed. A report to the council's Culture and Environment Scrutiny Committee in July gives more detail about Camden 's approach to the Sustainable Communities Act.
Communities in control: real people, real power the government's empowerment white paper was published on 9 th July 2008 . The paper describes how government want to see a shift in power, influence and responsibility away from existing centres of power into the hands of communities and individual citizens. Seven themes are used to explain how this can happen: being active in your community; access to information; having influence; challenge; redress; standing for office; and ownership and control.
The emphasis in the paper is on the perspective of the individual citizen, with recognition of the importance of the voluntary and community (or third) sector as an enabler for individuals to develop stronger voice and influence. It is acknowledged that a vibrant participatory democracy can strengthen our representative democracy, and the third sector has a crucial role to play in this. The Government wants us to embed democracy in our way of life rather than treat it as a system of occasional voting. Issues like low voter turnout, disengaged young people and distrust of politicians will be addressed through ‘using every practical means available' from reinvigorating historical methods such as petitioning, to capitalising on new opportunities provided by information technology. Some of the key actions within the seven themes are summarised below.
1.Being active in your community – active citizens and the value of volunteering looks at how active and enterprising individuals can play an important role in stimulating community activity and taking collective action to bring about change. Lack of meeting places, funding, practical help from others who know the ropes, and lack of community groups in a neighbourhood makes it difficult for people to get started.
To make it easier to engage there will be continued support for volunteering . A task force is exploring the role of the third sector in welfare to work reform, with particular emphasis on piloting a ‘community allowance'. This would let community organisations pay people to do work that strengthens their communities without it affecting their benefits. The Office of the Third Sector will also be providing £2m to support people with disabilities to volunteer and become volunteer managers.
A new £7.5m Empowerment Fund is proposed to give financial assistance to selected national third sector organisations which are helping to support local community organisations that are in turn empowering people and their communities . The themes of the empowerment fund are community leadership, community development, community and social media, community voices, improving communication between citizens and councillors, social enterprise, empowerment of excluded communities and community involvement in planning. £1.5m will be earmarked specifically for the involvement in planning theme.
A £70m Community builders Fund will be established to enable community organisations to provide suitable, accessible community facilities where people can meet to run their activities. The view is that neighbourhoods should have spaces where people can come together to discuss their local concerns and channel them effectively and constructively into local decision making. Organisations should have the ability to bid for and run local services tailored to the needs of their own particular community or neighbourhood. These organisations are expected to be run as economically viable social enterprises without being perpetually dependent on grant funding.
Grassroots Grants will provide small grants to grassroots groups that have volunteer time as their main resource. The programme aims to increase immediate grant funding and capacity building support, increase the long term funding available from community owned endowments raised from local donors, and improve sustainability through strengthening independent funders. Small grants will be dispersed from an £80m fund from 2008 – 2011. There will be an additional £50m endowment fund where those receiving it will be expected to raise ‘ match' investment from private donations.
Barriers to commissioning services from faith-based groups will be removed, and investment and support for implementing an inter-faith strategy will be announced.
2. Access to information is described as pre-requisite to community empowerment. Government want information services to be available and relevant at local neighbourhood level and will work with local authorities to pilot innovative ways of sharing the information they hold. A cross-government Digital Equality Action Plan will aim to ensure that all sections of society can enjoy the full range of benefits that digital technologies can bring. A pilot Digital Mentors scheme in deprived areas will support groups to develop websites and podcasts, and a Youth Media Fund called Mediabox will help young people have a positive voice in the media.
3. Having an influence has a focus on new rights to petition for action and encouraging higher election turnout. There will be a new duty on local councils to respond to all petitions relating to local authority functions. If five per cent of the local population sign a petition there will have to be a full council debate. Local authorities will be able to set lower thresholds. Councils will also act as community advocates, for example for petitions related to Primary Care Trusts.
A new duty on local authorities to promote democracy will include explanatory information campaigns and powers to provide voting incentives such as entering voters into a prize draw. In order to conduct formal democratic decision making as locally as possible the creation of councils at the most local level will be encouraged. Residents can seek to establish this form of local council – the introduction of a right of appeal to the secretary of state is planned where a community's proposal for a local council is denied by the local authority. In future local councils, and in some cases parish councils, will be able to make certain bye-laws without the need for scrutiny by central government.
There is an expectation that participatory budgeting will be used in all local authority areas by 2012. Using participatory budgeting for local community safety budgets and health related spending is also being explored.
The new duty to involve placed on local authorities will be extended to other public agencies to further engage people in developing and commissioning services. Inclusive participative structures for third sector organisations are recognised for their importance in ensuring the sector has a consistent, effective and accountable voice in local decision making. The Principles of Representation for third sector organisations on Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) will help LSPs decide how they can best support this involvement in a sustained way.
For empowerment through the planning system developers can make fairer contributions to infrastructure through a new Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) providing more opportunities for communities to get involved in decisions on where to spend money. However, local authorities will be ‘empowered' rather than required to charge the levy. Section 106 obligations will continue alongside CIL.£3.2m has been provided for Planning Aid to secure constructive input into local and regional plans, along with the £1.5m earmarked within the new Empowerment Fund for community engagement in planning.
4. Challenge. This theme looks at how people can hold officials to account through new powers of petitioning, and ways in which more visible and accountable local leaders can emerge through encouraging elected mayors. It will be made easier for citizens to petition and trigger a mayoral referendum. The government is also interested in piloting an expansion of Local Involvement Networks (LINks) beyond their existing remit of health and social care.
5. Redress. A number of initiatives are making it easier to seek redress when services do not meet expectations. New rights and powers will be balanced by responsibilities and duties with the idea of Community Contracts developing in every neighbourhood. The contracts bring together councils, police, local NHS and community groups to agree priorities for action. In return people collectively agree to take on responsibility, for example running after school clubs or looking after a local park. Community pledgebanks will also be piloted to help get things done by registering a pledge in return for other people doing the same. Financial redress will be explored for use in appropriate situations.
6. Standing for office. Steps are being taken to ensure that elected representatives reflect the communities they serve. These include: relaxing the rules forbidding council officers above a certain salary band from being active in party politics; a taskforce to help more black, asian and minority ethnic women to become councillors, helping people understand local and national democracy, and making it easier and more attractive to become a councillor, and to stop being one (in the latter case through encouraging the continued participation of experienced ex councillors as Aldermen and Alderwomen).
7. Ownership and control is about increasing the number of people engaged in the running and ownership of local services and assets. An Asset Transfer Unit is being established to build on work led by the Development Trusts Association and its partners. The partnership will extend their demonstration programme and will lead a campaign to step up the number of transfers where there is a justified outcome. Local authorities will be expected to make information available to local communities, allowing them to challenge authorities if they think assets are underused. Government is also seeking views on a national framework to support Community Land Trusts which can secure the long term future of vital assets such as open spaces, local shops, affordable housing and meeting halls.
A new Social Enterprise Unit is being established to champion the role of social enterprise models in delivering Communities and Local Government strategic objectives by recognising their contribution in areas such as housing, regeneration and creating empowered and cohesive communities. Support for social enterprise is a key theme of the new Empowerment Fund. In addition local authorities will be encouraged to ensure that social enterprises are able to compete fairly for contracts through advertising in relevant places and breaking down contracts into smaller sections.
The delivery of the white paper will include (subject to parliamentary approval) legislative changes progressed through the planned Community Empowerment, Housing and Economic Regeneration Bill which will be introduced during 2008 – 2009. You can download the full document at www.communities.gov.uk/documents/communities/pdf/886045.pdf
If you want more information on anything mentioned above please contact me:
0207 284 6567
The White Paper published in October 2006 forms the basis for the Local Government Health Improvement Bill. It lays out future ways of working between central and local government, local government and its partners and citizens.
Follow this link for Annex G of the White Paper, which covers the third sector.
Follow this link for a summary of the White Paper from the Local Government Information Unit.
Follow this link for a briefing paper from the Local Government Association.
The following briefing papers may also be useful.
The Audit Commission report called 'Hearts and Minds: commissioning from the voluntary sector' makes recommendations for government and the voluntary sector to improve commissioning practice
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