The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations submitted a response to the Public Accounts Select Committee Big Society consultation which closed on 18th March 2011.
Our response relates specifically to one of the questions posed by the committee, which is about the place of local authorities in the transfer of power from Whitehall to communities and the role local councillors should play.
Our research and consultancy show that there is great variation in the capacity and willingness of citizens to take up the demands of the ‘big society’; in how local authorities respond to their local communities and in the capacity of the VCS to organise and take up a leadership role to develop ‘big society’ ideas. Within this context, local government should continue to play- or even further develop – an important strategic role and support the development of the VCS and individuals and communities.
We argue that it is important to continue to develop the whole system, with local government, the Voluntary and Community sector, local politicians, local citizens and communities taking up their different and complementary roles. We outline our view of the role of the council as a facilitator- creating active communities and providing these communities with a democratic conduit to shape places they live in, with local politicians taking up an enhanced role to help communities adapt to new challenges. In the case of many local authorities taking up this role will require a change in culture, which would allow its officers to look out and work more closely with the communities they serve, to understand that citizens can take up and provide solutions to local dilemmas.
For further information please contact Camilla Child.
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Big society consultation submission from TIHR_March 2011