The Social Value Act 2012 came into force on the 31st January 2013. To mark this, Urban Forum has produced a new briefing on the Act, outlining what it is, what it could offer the sector, and its limitations.
Urban Forum is among several national charities to welcome the Act and took part in a discussion at Parliament on the day it came out discussing how it should be implemented. The meeting was called by Chris White MP, whose Private Members Bill started the whole thing off. You can read about this meeting at our blog, where Urban Forum's Rachel Newton discusses what the Act does and doesn't offer.
Grants to build capacity as part of the mycommunityrights support service are open to organisations wanting to improve how they show their social value.
The measure in the Localism Bill which required local authorities to hold a local referendum (on any issue) if a petition on the issue received signatures from five percent of the local government voters in the area has been removed from the final Localism Act. After undergoing several Amendments to address concerns over the cost to local authorities of holding referenda, it was decided in the House of Lords to remove the measure altogether.
Council tax referenda, which must be held if the local authority wishes to raise council tax above a certain amount, do remain in the final Act.
The Localism Bill, introduced in December 2010, received Royal Assent on 16 November 2011. The Act sets out plans it says will give communities and local government greater powers and freedom from Whitehall. The Government estimates that many of the measures will come into effect in April 2012.This briefing summarises the main features in the Act, which was subjected to a number of changes during its passage through Parliament.
In July 2011 the Government published a draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which sets out their requirements and strategy for economic, environmental and social planning policies in England.
The National Planning Policy Framework is important to communities because it will affect what sort of building and development happens, and when and how communities can influence development in their area.
On 13 December the Government published the Localism Bill, setting out plans it says will give communities and local government greater powers and freedom from Whitehall. Alongside the Bill, they also published an ‘essential guide to decentralisation' explaining what they wanted to achieve, why and how.
The Bill has passed through the House of Commons and is currently in committee stage in the House of Lords (as of 12 July).
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles tabled 237 amendments to the Bill on 11 May, the relevant of which are summarised in this briefing.
In July 2011 the Coalition Government published its Open Public Services White Paper, in which the Cabinet Office sets out its policy framework for how it wants public services to be owned, delivered and funded in the future, and the roles of the individual citizen and the state in this.
The White Paper sets out an overview of their programme for public services over the next few years. Some of the measures outlined are already underway (Free Schools, Academies Act 2010), some are being taken forward in legislation currently being debated in Parliament (the Health and Social Care Bill and the Localism Bill), and some will be subject to further development and consultation.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has published its new Strategy and Action Plan to both promote microgeneration and decentralised energy as well as address the non-financial barriers with the aim of making locally produced energy a much more realistic prospect for householders and communities across the UK. The Action Plan implements the financial incentives which have already been put in place such as the Feed-in Tariff (FIT), Renewable Heat Incentive and the forthcoming Green Deal.
Community First is an £80m government funded programme aimed at helping communities come together through new and existing community groups, to identify their strengths and local priorities, plan for their future and become more resilient.
Community First has two elements to it:
1. A £30m small grant programme for some of the most deprived areas in the country.
2. A national endowment match challenge. The aim of this is to encourage local and national giving to raise money for longer term sustainable funding for communities, which the Government will match with £50m of investment.
The Localism Bill, introduced in December 2010 and currently in the committee stage in the House of Lords, contains a duty to hold a local referendum in response to a petition. This new measure effectively replaces the Duty to Respond to Petitions, except of course where a petition was calling for a referendum. This duty would apply to county councils, district councils, London Boroughs and the Greater London Authority.
The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is a capital cost (or planning charge) that will be payable by developers and contribute towards the cost of local and sub-regional infrastructure that the council or local community have identified such as new schools, health centres, and parks. Local authorities will be able (but are not required) to levy the charge throughout England and Wales on most new developments in their area and whilst local authorities can continue to enter into Section 106 agreements (or planning obligations); the aim of CIL is to provide greater flexibility in the deployment of financial resources than the former s106 agreements had enabled.
On 14th February 2011, the Cabinet Office published their strategy for growing the social investment market. This paper sets out the government's vision for using social investment to improve society, and a strategy for how they hope to achieve this goal. This includes their goals for the Big Society Bank, which they believe will be an important catalyst for increasing the amount of private capital available to support social entrepreneurs.