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A solution for a new UK landscape

Scotland has spoken – and has decided to remain part of the UK. Nonetheless, a historic change is occurring. Under the “devo max” settlement promised by Westminster, Scotland will gain new powers to make its own decisions over many areas of policy, including tax and welfare. David Cameron has said that England, Wales and Northern Ireland should also be able to vote separately on these matters.

Inevitably, debate about the new configuration of UK government will lead to a new focus on localism – and this is not limited to the countries of the UK. Margaret Hodge MP has called for greater powers over tax and spending for London, pointing out that the capital’s population will be twice the size of Scotland’s by 2030, while thinktank ResPublica recently argued that Manchester should lead the way with greater devolution and place-based services.

As local areas gain more decision-making powers, we will be calling on them to recognise that faith groups make up one of the biggest sectors within their communities – and that faith is too significant to ignore.

It’s in this context of a focus on local needs that the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Faith and Society, for which FaithAction is the secretariat, has drafted a ‘covenant for engagement’. The aim of the covenant is to facilitate joint working between local authorities and faith communities.

Under the covenant, local authorities and faith groups agree to a set of key principles around stronger partnership working and clear commissioning processes, which will facilitate the delivery of excellent services.

Local authorities commit to welcome the involvement of faith groups in the delivery of services and social action on an equal basis with other groups.

Faith-based organisations commit to work actively with local authorities in the design and delivery of services to the public.

Full details are available on the APPG on Faith and Society website.