Local leaders set out route for Labour to deliver ambitions in government

Council leaders have set out a roadmap for reforming public services and
rebuilding trust under a future Labour government, starting with giving
meaningful power and influence to communities.
In the context of heavily constrained public spending, the group of seven Labour
leaders say the party will need to focus on making better use of existing money if
it is to deliver meaningful change.
Their intervention feeds into Labour’s slated Take Back Control Act, offering locally
rooted, community-powered solutions to huge issues from poor health, to
inequality, to failing high streets.
It also addresses Keir Starmer’s ambitions to end what he calls ‘sticking-plaster
politics’, by focusing on early intervention and prevention.
Proposals include:
– Giving communities real opportunities to take back control through new
rights to own local buildings and to shape public services.
– Giving councils stronger powers to respond to their communities' priorities
including tougher enforcement powers, getting a better deal from
developers and increasing the baseline for social value in public
– Putting devolution centre of a new government’s agenda by setting out a
renewed, universal approach to redistributing power out of Westminster to
regions, councils and directly to neighbourhoods.
– Shifting public spending towards early intervention and prevention by
combining existing public service budgets into local place-based budgets.
– Putting people in the centre of service design through a new Community
Impact Duty which would require all public services and agencies to
consider the impact of decisions on relevant communities.
– Ending the fragile and uncertain system of local funding by committing to
long term financial settlements for councils lasting three to five years in the
first Comprehensive Spending Review.
The paper includes examples of councils already taking innovative approaches to
working with their communities to run better services and improve places despite
heavy resource constraints.
Their experience of delivering against the odds has practical lessons for a future
Labour Government. For example, in Manchester Early Help Hubs have supported

over 10,000 families before they reach crisis, reducing the proportion of children in
care. In Islington the council has used its role negotiating developer contributions
to introduce peppercorn rents for local businesses. And in South Tyneside, the
council has gathered more than 200 organisations to pledge to spend in and
recruit from the local area.
Cllr Bev Craig, leader of Manchester City Council, co-authored the paper. She
“A Labour government would inherit public services in crisis, yet from day one it
will need to demonstrate a different way of doing government and empowering
communities. Traditional top-down decision-making is hoarding too much power
at the centre, and change will need to come from the grassroots up.
“In Manchester we’ve reformed how public services work together, and invested
heavily in early intervention, and we’ve seen tangible positive outcomes for
families, with a reduced need for services down the line. This is a window into
what the next Labour government could do. This is not about spending more
money, but about spending money differently and better.”
Co-author Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, leader of Islington Council, says:
“In a world where trust in institutions is low, politicians can’t stick with the status
quo of forcing change on people without their input. We need to make decisions
with the people we represent, not for them. Community power involves listening to
the concerns of our constituents and bringing them with us to create a fairer
“In Islington, we have listened to local people and through the use of progressive
procurement and social value, we can make sure wealth is distributed more
equally to those who need it most. That is just one of the ways in which a future
Labour Government could give councils more powers to make a material
difference to people’s lives.”
Co-author Peter Mason, Leader of Ealing Council, says:
“Time and time again, our communities and neighbourhoods have pulled
together in response to crisis, and we have started to take it for granted. We need
to re-focus government so that it can work with people in a way that recognises
and values their expertise, and acknowledges that they know best about their
places, and about what they need.
“Government and the public sector at all levels should be about creating resilient
communities, rooted in places full of pride and identity. It should be about trusting

the British people to understand that compromise is often more practical than
consensus. This report describes what we need to collectively work towards, and
how we can realise a Labour Vision for Community Power.”