Most Brits want more local powers after Covid and lockdowns made people question central control

2 months ago 12

THE Covid-19 pandemic has raised questions about how power is exercised across the country, with Brits now wanting more control over the decisions that directly affect their community.

A survey of 2,000 adults revealed 56 per cent want more local power when it comes to decision making.

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Shoppers are pictured in Leeds this weekCredit: JOJHN MATHER/IMAGEVIEW

This rises to 65 per cent in both the north east and north west, where tougher local lockdown restrictions have been in place for longer.

More than half of UK adults (51 per cent) said they don’t have faith in central government to make the right decision for their local community.

And 37 per cent think their local community has provided more support than central government during the crisis.

It also emerged that 57 per cent think their local community is at its best when local people come together to create change themselves.

The research commissioned by Locality, the network supporting local community organisations to build strong local communities, found 44 per cent believe decisions made by the central government aren’t helpful to their community.

But 64 per cent are prepared to put their trust in neighbours, while 63 per cent expect community organisations to get things right for the public.

It also revealed that 50 per cent of adults would now like to see more community-run businesses in their area, and 34 per cent want to get more involved with community organisations in the future.

Tony Armstrong, CEO of Locality, said: “The pandemic is changing the way we think about many fundamental issues in our society, including the relationship between centralised national power and local power.

“At Locality, we’ve always believed in backing local people and community organisations with the resources and decision-making power they need to make their communities stronger.

“It’s encouraging to see that much of the general public shares this view – particularly as so many people have discovered the value of their community organisations and local support networks during the pandemic.”

“We’re calling on the government to use the ‘Levelling-Up’ and “Shared Prosperity” funding announced in last week’s spending review to grasp the opportunity to put communities in charge. By investing in local places and putting local people in charge, places can really thrive.”  

One of the organisations that Locality works with is Centre 4, a vibrant community hub serving residents in a deprived part of Grimsby.

When forced to close under government guidelines, staff and volunteers sprang into action to ensure the most vulnerable could continue to access vital support including social prescribing, advice services and activities for the elderly.

Regular services were moved online or over the phone and the team were inundated with enquiries from residents as they helped and supported through the tough national lockdown restrictions.

Through its member network, Locality supports community organisations to be strong and successful to meet the direct needs of their communities.

They provide what’s needed most, from better health and wellbeing to housing, education, training and employability

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A recent survey of Locality’s membership showed that 44 per cent of community organisations saw demand increase during the first three months of the Covid-19 crisis.

However, it also found that nearly half of its members lost at least a quarter of their income in the first six months of the pandemic, with these levels expected to run into 2021.

For more information, and to find out which community organisations are in your area, visit www.locality.org.uk/network.

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