The case for community-powered conservatism
I was elected on a platform that committed to levelling up our country – and whilst most governments talk about boosting regional growth very few can point to much success in delivering it.
This time it must be different. There can be no half measures or excuses. We have to deliver on levelling up.
Our best chance of delivering this much needed shift is by empowering the amazing local communities that serve us so well and by investing in the institutions and infrastructures that bring people together.
As I've said before - for far too long, we’ve seen wealth and opportunity focused in London and the South East – largely because national polices were designed in the belief that people from constituencies like ours would simply up-sticks and move to find better jobs elsewhere. But the policy makers didn’t properly understand that many of us love the area where we live, we love the communities which surround and support us and we set great value on living near our family and friends.
Community is critical to our overall wellbeing - if there is one thing we’ve all learnt during the pandemic it is surely that reducing our social connectedness undermines our health, our wellbeing and perhaps even our economic resilience.
I was therefore pleased to join a group of Conservative MPs in contributing to the paper - Trusting the People - in which we make the case for community-powered conservatism. The paper was co-published by New Local and the New Social Covenant Unit and you can read or download the full paper here.
In Trusting the People we urge the Government to reform the public and private sectors to put power into the hands of communities and people who have the expertise and commitment to turn places around.
- We ask that power not only be ceded from Whitehall to councils, but also from councils to communities. This ‘double devolution’ underscored by ‘Community Covenants’, signed between a council and local people to ensure power is shared
- We talk about the power of the ‘civic core’ – the 12 million people who regularly volunteer in their communities every year and we highlight examples of where communities are already transforming places and services
- We ask for increased support for community businesses, social enterprises and employee-ownership, including through tax incentives
- We call on the Government to take greater responsibility for Britain’s deteriorating social and cultural infrastructure by increasing funding for libraries, youth centres and post offices, as well as opening up opportunities for community control.
Levelling up - spreading opportunities equally
Trusting the People - the case for community powered conservatism
Siobhan Baillie MP, Miriam Cates MP, Nick Fletcher MP, Jo Gideon MP, Jonathan Gullis MP, Paul Howell MP, Jerome Mayhew MP, Robin Millar MP, Kieran Mullan MP, and Jane Stevenson MP
With thanks to New Local and Local Trust for their support for this project, to Andrew O’Brien and Imogen Sinclair for their help with research and drafting, and to colleagues including Saqib Bhatti MP, Claire Coutinho MP and Danny Kruger MP for their contribution to the ideas set out here