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Impacts of the Coalition Government on Localism

The Coalition's Programme for Government contains some powerful implications for local communities. We present here The Future Foundation's view on what these political shifts will mean for businesses.

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What is the new Coalition Programme saying about Localism?

  • The programme holds the promise of a significant decentralisation of decision-taking under the philosophical banner of "communities coming together to make lives better" plus "a fundamental shift of power from Westminster to people".
  • There will be a planning system "to give neighbourhoods far more ability to determine the shape of the places where their inhabitants live".
  • Local media will be favoured via a) an end to "unfair competition" from local council news-sheets and b) special local multi-media "partnerships". And local development planning processes will be able to favour small retailers over large ones.
  • Local people will be helped to save or own/run local services and (under threat) facilities. Community groups will also be able to open new schools in response to parental demand.
  • Local work clubs will create a support culture for the unemployed.
  • The survival of local NHS services such as A&E and maternity wards will no longer be centrally decided. Local health budgets will fall under ever more localised influence.
  • Local people will hold the police to account through a much improved distribution of neighbourhood crime statistics and "beat meetings".

And what are the key implications for the future of Localism?

  • We should interpret new public policy as a source of significant intensification of Localism. The effort to decentralise and de-bureaucratise state services is likely to stimulate local community groups and focused action from them.
  • The ultimate level of enthusiasm for local engagement can, however, be easily exaggerated. One may well worry about one’s local environment but not wish proactively to do too much to make it better - thinking that this is still the role of politicians and officials.
  • But there is no doubt that millions feel warm about the local and are likely to approve of any policy device which preserves local pubs and shops (whether they are actually used or not); it will be good for many brands to seem small / have an identity which can be shrunk down to a local size.

Please click here to receive your free sample copy of the Local Futures report from our website.

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