Local Trust research demonstrates that a combination of deprivation and a lack of civic assets – places to meet, an engaged community and connectivity, physical and digital – are associated with significantly worse social and economic outcomes than are found in other, equally deprived neighbourhoods that have such assets. Unemployment, health, school attainment and higher education participation levels are all much worse. This makes these neighbourhoods perhaps our most ‘left behind’.
Generally, the analysis of ‘left behind’ areas is that the people in them feel disenfranchised and powerless to change their circumstances. They have lost trust in politicians and established formal democratic structures. For much of the last decade policy making largely ignored them. Whilst previous to this regeneration programmes were too bureaucratic, lacked the flexibility to respond to local needs, were too short term and gave insufficient attention to sustainability and the building of a legacy. New and more radical approaches which transfer power and control into the hands of communities are now needed.
What will the project try to achieve?
The project comprises advocacy for a new significant endowment which is capable of providing funding and support over an extended time frame to enable the creation of strong, resourceful communities in the most ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods – communities with confidence and capacity, who are well-connected with high levels of social capital (bonding and bridging) and with a bank of improved or new assets to support prosperity and cohesion.
The new endowment proposed – the Community Wealth Fund – will be effective in ‘levelling up’ ‘left behind’ areas because it will draw on the learning from evaluations and reviews of past government local area initiatives and from programmes run by independent funders. This means that communities at the neighbourhood level will take the funding decisions with appropriate confidence and capacity building support; investment will be provided over the long term (10-15 years); attention will be paid to linking communities with opportunities in the wider geographical area and to sustainability and legacy.
Who might be interested in this project?
This project will be of interest to practitioners, policy makers and academics concerned with how to develop strong, resilient communities in our most ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods.