The changes in National Policy necessitate that the relationship between local government and the local Public Sector and the Voluntary, Community and Faith Sector and with citizens will be different in future. There will be less public sector delivery and more commissioning and establishment of alternative delivery mechanisms. There will be more transparency and greater involvement of citizens in decision making, influencing services and challenging services.
Changes required will encompass; transforming balances of power, changing the capacity of public sector organisations to become more open to influence, and moving from being a controller to an enabler; and building capacity within the communities and people of the Borough to hold greater responsibilities in designing services and plans and to bid for service delivery contracts
Not starting from scratch
Our approach recognises that outcomes and activities sought in a Big Society already exist across our Borough, in our neighbourhoods, local businesses, public sector agencies, voluntary organisations, communities and faith groups.
We recognise however that existing activities are not enough. The borough needs to do more and needs to do differently to meet the challenges presented in this current climate of austerity and a retreating state. We need to respond locally to the Government’s drive within the Big Society concept and the related legislation, by enabling and supporting the expansion of civic and civil society.
Our Society in Dudley Borough was inspired by the national Our Society network which aims to connect people who are genuinely concerned to move power into communities and who help others to improve their shared lives and environment.
Like those involved in the national Our Society network, we see value in many of the ideas advocated under the Big Society label and proposed in the Localism Bill – local decision-making, mutual support within communities, strengthening civic institutions and wider civic participation. We believe they belong within a wider context of social action that has a long history and a future beyond the programmes and initiatives of different governments.
Our agreed principles
Existing commitments in our Community Strategy, Local Compact and Comprehensive Community Engagement Strategy will guide our approach, and in particular principles in our Community Strategy around;
- promoting equality and tackling inequality,
- delivering in partnership and
- involving people.
It is important that a changed relationship between the public sector and the voluntary, community and faith sector is negotiated between sectors to ensure a best-fit that suits all partners. Both sectors and different organisations will have their own expectations of how new National Policy will effect local delivery, that may be quite different. A mutual agreement of how the relationship will change locally is required.
Where has this come from?
Prior to the general election May 2010, David Cameron announced the concept of the Big Society, the basis of which is of community empowerment, opening up public services and greater civic and civil action.
Many speeches, articles and reports have been written about the ‘Big Society’. Most announcements and changes from the coalition Government have been badged as or identified with the concept of a radical rethink of the role of central and local government, with a clear intention to move to a reduced role for government in directing peoples lives, with a corresponding drive to put people and communities more in control of their lives, and decisions that affect them. This increased role for communities is at the heart of the concept of a Big Society as opposed to Big Government.
The 'Big Society' has been partially established legislatively by the Localism Act as well as other changes in legislation including the NHS White Paper and the Open Public Services White Paper.
Prime Minister David Cameron has stated that the Big Society is
"… a guiding philosophy, a society where the leading force for progress is social responsibility, not state control… It includes a whole set of unifying approaches – breaking state monopolies, allowing charities, social enterprises and companies to provide public services, devolving power down to neighbourhoods, making government more accountable".
Our Society information
We have our own Our Society in Dudley Borough website that you can access information from and blog / add comments. Most public sector employees however; are unable to access the site because it is hosted on a blogsite which is blocked by most public sector firewalls. If you cannot gain access, these pages are similar or duplicates of what you would find on the Our Society in Dudley Borough website. On these pages you can find out about: who is involved, what’s happening, what we’re reading and looking at to inform our thinking, our Community Rights made Real research and learning project and more.