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#FaithinPartnership

Three new reports on partnership working between faith and local government.

Navca and Locality want £150m fund for poorest communities

Navca and Locality have sent a Budget submission to Chancellor George Osborne for a fund to help micro-social enterprises and local charities generate growth in the poorest regions.

The submission calls for a fund of £150m – £3m for each of the 50 most deprived local authority areas in England.

Their joint submission notes that for the first time since the 1960s, there is no national government regeneration programme for the areas of greatest deprivation.

This money would, it says, unlock local resources and assets; boost community initiatives; generate employment; stimulate ‘self-renovating neighbourhoods’; and leverage further investment by establishing neighbourhood bonds.

The submission insists that the fund would be a “low-cost way of injecting resources into wealth-creating social organisations in the most deprived communities and helping people who are furthest from the labour market”.

It insists that the fund could save the government money, since “the work of community organisations and social enterprises often involves intervening early to solve future problems”.

'Just £60m of £4.1bn has reached organisations'

Navca and Locality have identified that many deprived communities are facing the problem of filling gaps left by public spending cuts in the short term, while not yet benefitting from the longer-term benefits promised by the localism agenda and public service reform.

The consequence has been that local voluntary organisations, community groups and social enterprises working in these areas have suffered.

The submission quotes a Public Accounts Committee report that reveals the Regional Growth Fund has so far failed to deliver “more than a small fraction” of its promised investment: just £60m of the total £1.4bn has reportedly reached frontline organisations.

That report says that £410m is being held by intermediary bodies, while only 2,442 jobs have been created and 2,762 existing jobs protected out of a target of 36,800.

“Disadvantaged areas in particular have not been able to invest adequately for local economic growth, nor can they rely on the collection of local business rates to compensate for continuing cuts in local government settlement grants from central government,” the submission states.

Fund would stimulate ‘people power’

Steve Wyler, chief executive of Locality, said: “An injection of social investment would be a much-needed shot in the arm – stimulating ‘people power’ to bring untapped resources into productive use, stimulating economic activity and mobilising a coalition of the willing to turn round struggling communities."

Joe Irvin, Navca CEO, added: “As well as supporting the poorest communities, local charities, community groups and social enterprises bring money in to these areas. And because their work is locally focused, the money’s spent locally.

“This increases the local multiplier effect of any investment, meaning a small investment in these organisations is one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways of helping the most deprived parts of our country."