Work in progress
Taking back control means more than just transferring power from Brussels to Whitehall, it means placing empowered communities at the country’s constitutional core. Democratise, Decentralise, Deliver is a research programme of three separate but inter-related policy reports on community empowerment, national representation of local government and the incentivisation of goodwill through locally funded and controlled public services and assets.
In May 2019, Localis published Hitting Reset, a case for local economic leadership for better development and more inclusive growth. The argument was presented in light of a lost decade of flatlining growth in the UK economy and a desire to ‘take back control’ expressed at the ballot box. However, to state the need for a decentralised political economy is but one side of the coin. Moving into 2020, our ambition is to explore the other, the ‘bottom-up’ element of decentralisation:
- Empowering local communities as key actors within the local state and ensuring that a place’s population are properly represented within local government.
- Hypothecating ways this democratisation could scale-up to national representation via constitutional reform.
- Exploring the scope for communities to play a key role in the management of their local assets and delivery of their local services.
Understanding these three distinct but closely related challenges to localism is essential to overcoming what has been termed in academia ‘the local trap’ – the assumption that something is more democratic simply because it is local. Localism has the potential to deliver real democratic accountability that can eradicate the appeal of empty populist promises, but only if done in a way that delivers real power to people. The three reports pose three questions to this end:
- How can communities steer councils in a representative manner?
- What constitutional arrangements could scale this up to national level?
- How can this engagement translate into service delivery through genuine common ownership/participation?
Project kindly supported by