From today more communities will be able to bid to take over local services they think they can run differently and better as the Community Right to Challenge provisions come into effect.
The Community Right to Challenge hands more power back to communities, allowing voluntary and community groups, parish councils and local authority staff to express an interest in taking over the running of local authority services, making services more responsive to local needs and delivering better value for money.
Also from today a range of specialist support is being put in place to help community groups wanting to take greater control of their community through every stage of the process - from setting up a group and developing a proposal right through to the delivering services on the ground.
The Social Investment Business, in partnership with Locality and the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations will deliver a three year support programme worth £11.5million. The programme will include a dedicated advice phone line where support and information will be available. It will also include grants to help groups to use the new right and bid to run local public services, resources, and case studies.
Some examples of community groups already providing excellent local services include:
Bulky Bob’s - a social enterprise that has contracts with Liverpool City Council and others to collect, reuse and recycle bulky household waste. 70 per cent of the furniture and white goods collected are recycled or reused, helping over 34,000 low-income families gain access to affordable, ‘pre-loved’ furniture and a huge saving for councils in landfill tax.
Shiney Advice and Resource Project (ShARP) - is an independent welfare rights advice centre based in Sunderland. Run as a charity it provides basic advice on debt, welfare benefits, housing and employment. Many of ShARP’s users are vulnerable adults or people in stressful situations. Sunderland City Council has recently renewed its contract with ShARP to provide key advice to the Shiney Row, Houghton and Hetton wards of Sunderland.
Communities Minister Andrew Stunell said:
The Community Right to Challenge gives communities another opportunity to be the driving force in the future of their local services. As the people who know their communities best and use and rely upon local services it makes sense, that where they feel they can run services better, they should be encouraged and supported to step in and do exactly that.
Already we have seen some excellent achievements from local people taking the reins, and with these revolutionary rights now in place we can look forward to more communities getting involved in making their local areas better places to live.
Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark said:
The Community Right to Challenge paves the way for communities to play a bigger part in shaping excellent local services around their needs.
Councils do not have to have a monopoly over the best ideas and the most creative are already welcoming innovative ideas from communities about how services can be reformed and improved to better meet local need.
This marks the next step in returning power back to citizens, communities and local groups to manage their own affairs free from Whitehall interference.
Jonathan Jenkins, Chief Executive, Social Investment Business said:
The Right to Challenge presents a fantastic new opportunity for social ventures to grow through increased revenue, and therefore build their capacity to secure further investment - all with the goal of being able to reach more beneficiaries.
Steve Wyler, Chief Executive, Locality said:
We are delighted that the Community Right to Challenge is coming into force, having pushed hard to make the Localism Act a reality. The Community Right to Challenge will give communities the impetus to suggest and put in place new ways of delivering services - meeting the needs of residents, employing local people and creating resilient community enterprises. Locality supports local people to run local services as the best way to deliver economic and social change.
Mohamed Aslam MBE, BEM, Director, Himmat Limited a community-led organisation based in Halifax said:
At Himmat, we have expanded from our original base of Halifax to deliver services elsewhere in West Yorkshire. As a community-led organisation, we have been successful in being awarded contracts to run services such as with the local Youth Offending Team. It hasn’t been straightforward establishing ourselves - we’re lucky to have strong relationships with our local authority. The new Community Right to Challenge will make it easier for community organisations to suggest new ways of running council services. The 95 per cent attendance record at our Youth Offending Team programme is evidence that community organisations deliver results.
Notes to editors
The Community Right to Challenge was introduced by the Localism Act 2011 which was enacted on 15 November 2011. Regulations were laid in Parliament on 30 April and 17 May 2012. A plain English guide to the Localism Act is available at: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/localismplainenglishupdate.
Under the Community Right to Challenge, relevant authorities (county, district and London Borough councils and fire and rescue authorities) must consider expressions of interest and, where they accept an expression of interest, carry out a procurement exercise for the service.
A Community Rights website has been launched to give people more information about the new powers and opportunities available to them. The website will continue to grow and expand as more of the Rights come into force. The site can be viewed here: www.communityrights.communities.gov.uk.
Practical help and guidance for those wishing to use the Community Right to Challenge is also available on the My Community Rights website. The site can be viewed here: http://mycommunityrights.org.uk/community-right-to-challenge/.
The dedicated advice phone line for support on Community Right to Challenge can be reached on 0845 345 4564.
The Social Investment Business has been awarded a contract to deliver a Community Right to Challenge support programme. The programme will be provided in partnership with Locality and the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations and supported by a wider partnership of Social Enterprise UK, National Association of Local Councils, Urban Forum, National Council for Voluntary Organisations, ACRE and Community Ventures and Pulse Regeneration.
Locality is also providing support for those using the Community Right to Build.
More details of the grants element of the Community Right to Challenge support programme will be announced soon.