A new report from localism think tank the New Local Government Network (NLGN) has tried to identify which areas of the country are most ready to benefit and most at risk from the Government’s Big Society agenda. The report examines data for each local authority area and arrives at the following conclusions:
- There is no strong link between a community’s wealth and its ‘Big Society’ resources, with some deprived areas comparatively rich in community wealth. A poll of local authorities suggested that even in areas facing the steepest budget reductions, ingredients of the Big Society are often strong.
- In new heat maps illustrating Big Society resources, Barking & Dagenham and Harlow councils are least well placed to benefit from the Big Society, with the South West and North of England regions faring strongest.
- Communities faced with ‘double deprivation’ – those lacking both financial wealth and community resources such as volunteering – should be targeted for extra help to cope with the withdrawal of traditional state services.
- In a boost to the Government’s agenda, new polling by Ipsos Mori shows that there is an untapped well of people willing to get more involved in community work through staffing libraries, sharing skills or mentoring children.
The data behind the report isn’t new – it reuses existing Place Survey material – but it provides a useful discussion piece on an area’s potential capacity to deliver the Big Society agenda. The NLGN has taken three indicators from the Place Survey to generate a ‘Big Society score’. The attached graphic illustrates Warwickshire’s figures in a national context. It’s a pretty crude measure and more work will be needed, locally, to better understand Warwickshire’s position.