August 19, 2019
What happens to a community when the shops and pubs shut their doors; the job market no longer offers opportunities to local people; and public services pull back, closing the youth clubs and libraries and leaving the community hubs with no staff? 
We Need To Do More To Understand The Root Causes Affecting The UKs Left Behind Communities
Communities face shocking consequences when England’s unwritten social contract is ripped up, new research carried out by OCSI for Local Trust found. As the Government reiterates its commitment to a new £3.6bn fund for UK towns, we need to think beyond economic interventions if we are to tackle the problems of places that have been “left behind” by our current social and economic settlement.Related... Why HuffPost UK Is Partnering With The Big Tent Ideas Festival For much of the post-war period, life in England for the majority was defined by an ever-improving quality of life. A buoyant private sector and increasing public spending. 
The expectation was that jobs appropriate to your skills and experience would be available and relatively easy to access, and there would be opportunities for promotion if you did well. By paying taxes, maintaining a steady income and participating in civic life you were also guaranteeing a better future for your children. 
Additionally, wherever you were born, regardless of family income, you might expect to grow up in a neighbourhood with a range of local shops and plenty of places to meet and socialise, whether in pubs, bingo halls or council-funded community centres.
A quarter of a century on, we are facing new challenges to the stability of our social, political and economic settlement. As close to a decade of austerity continues to impact on public service provision, and services and facilities withdraw from many poorer and more peripheral areas – often the same places that have already suffered from the effective withdrawal of the private sector – we need to consider what the impact is on those living in these communities.
The research we’ll be publishing in a couple of weeks time will show that areas lacking adequate social infrastructure are the areas that are truly “left behind”. Unemployment levels are higher than equally deprived areas and getting worse; there is significantly less available employment for those seeking work; more are excluded from work because of ill-health; and higher numbers of children are living in poverty.  
So how should we respond? What our research suggests is that short term economic interventions and small-scale funding programmes are insufficient to achieve the level of change that is needed. Any funding must be long term and locked in – stretching beyond conventional electoral and financial cycles.
We need a national programme, delivered over the long term, that will devolve power to local residents. One proposal for achieving this is the Community Wealth Fund – a Fund aimed at providing long term support to the most “left behind” communities, with a particular focus on rebuilding the social infrastructure that is vital to long term sustainability and success. The fund would use dormant assets and private sector investment to create a permanent endowment worth £4bn, which would be given directly to resident-led community groups.
This would begin to tackle the root of the issues that “left behind” areas are facing. It would go some way to directly addressing the economic challenges they face, whilst reinvesting in a wider social contract for the nation. It would establish myriad, diverse partnerships between national institutions and community groups, improving life across the UK.
Matt Leach is CEO of Local TrustHuffPost UK is partnering with The Big Ideas event, a day of political and cultural conversation across a range of topics from politics and society to communities and arts, taking place on 31 August in Mudchute, East London. Related... The NHS Is Slowly Cancelling Free IVF – And This Is The Impact It's Having Thousands Of Chicken Shop Boxes Are Being Used In The Fight Against Knife Crime Citizens Advice Slammed For 'Horribly Racist' Guidance On BAME Communities
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