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Communities: Unlocking Talent

Volume 699: debated on Wednesday 5 March 2008

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Department of Communities and Local Government (Hazel Blears) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am publishing a document entitled Unlocking the Talent of our Communities which includes our proposal to publish a White Paper. A copy of this document is available in the Library of the House. We will be developing a range of proposals over the coming months, and plan to publish a White Paper on putting communities in control of their local services and environment in England in summer 2008.

This White Paper will follow on from the achievements resulting from the 2006 local government White Paper Strong and Prosperous Communities, copies of which are available in the Library of the House. It is anchored in the Government’s conviction that our success as a nation in the 21st century is contingent on our capacity to unlock the talents of every citizen, community and region, so that the success of each of us contributes to the prosperity of all of us.

The White Paper will develop practical ways for local people to exercise power, influence and control over the services and agencies which have the most impact on their lives and neighbourhoods. People demand a greater say on the decisions which affect their lives, and an ever-greater number are willing to serve their communities, given the right structures, support and encouragement. Our White Paper will unlock the talents, energy and innovation latent in local communities, by creating new platforms, systems of redress and accountability, and mechanisms for making local change.

It will have four pillars:

encouraging more citizens to become active, renewing civil society, and building stronger local democracy;

using the power of citizens and consumers to improve local public services;

strengthening local accountability of local services and agencies; and

sustainable regeneration of deprived neighbourhoods by engaging local people, supporting people into work, encouraging more enterprises and boosting the social enterprise and mutual sector.

We will want a wide range of people to contribute to the thinking that goes into the White Paper, including practitioners and community activists, local government, trade unions, and people in the public services.