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Glossary of terms

Definitions of unfamiliar words or phrases used on Communities and Local Government websites.

We are committed to providing information in plain English so that all our users can understand it. However, much of our content is aimed at specialist audiences and new visitors may sometimes encounter unfamiliar words or phrases. We have tried to provide definitions of these terms below.

If you come across a term that you don't understand, or that you think might be confusing for someone using the site for the first time, please contact us and we will add a definition on this page.

Policy terms

Active citizenship: citizens taking opportunities to become actively involved in defining and tackling the problems of their communities and improving their quality of life.

Active Communities: communities in which citizens are empowered to lead self determined fulfilled lives, and in which everyone regardless of age, race or social background has a sense of belonging and a stake in society.

Barker Review of Housing Supply: an independent review by Kate Barker, commissioned by HM Treasury and the ODPM (now Communities and Local Government)  setting out a range of policy recommendations to improve how the housing market functions.

Barker Review of Land Use Planning: an independent review by Kate Barker, commisioned by HM Treasury and Communities and Local Government into land use planning, focusing on the link between planning and economic growth.

Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC): an advisory non-departmental body which advises the relevant Secretary of State on the exercise of their power to make Building Regulations and on other related subjects, in England and Wales.

Civil Renewal: people and government working together to make life better. It cuts across almost all policy areas, involving more people being able to influence decisions about their communities, and more people taking responsibility for tackling local problems.

Civic pioneers: councils who are committed to developing and sustaining opportunities for local people and groups to influence what happens in their communities.

Commission for Equalities and Human Rights: a new body with a wide range of responsibilities relating to rights including race, disability, age, sex, sexual orientation, religion and belief.

Community: a specific group of people who all hold something in common. Community has tended to be associated with two key aspects: firstly people who share locality or geographical place; secondly people who are communities of interest.

Community capacity building: activities, resources and support that strengthen the skills and abilities of people and community groups to take effective action and leading roles in the development of their communities and to engage with public bodies.

Community engagement: the process of working collaboratively with and through groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interest, or similar situations to address issues affecting the well being of those people.

Communities of interest: groups of people who share an identity, for example the Afro-Caribbean community, or those who share an experience, for example the homeless community.

Community organisation or group: a community organisation or group differs from a voluntary organisation in that the control lies in the hands of the beneficiaries as individual users, members or residents

Community sector: the web of personal relationships, groups, networks, traditions and patterns of behaviour that exist amongst those who share physical neighbourhoods, socio-economic conditions or common understandings and interests.

Core Cities: eight major English cities who have worked together to establish a vision of the role big cities should play in national and regional life. The eight cities are Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Decent Home: a home that meets the Decent Homes Standard. This means housing; is in a reasonable state of repair; has reasonably modern facilities and services; and, provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort.

FiReControl: a project working to move from the existing system of 46 fire control rooms in England, based at local fire and rescue services, to a network of nine new regional control rooms.

Fire Gateway: A web portal allowing people to access and interact with a variety of fire related services on the internet, as well as providing advice and links to useful sites.

FireLink: a project to improve fire and rescue service radio communications.

Government Office Network: a network of nine offices (one for each Region) who help to improve the way that Central Government works in relation to the regions.

Home Information Pack: this will need to be commissioned if you are selling your home. This will improve the process of buying and selling a home.

Home ownership schemes: a range of schemes designed for people on modest incomes who cannot afford to buy a home without help but can meet the long-term financial commitment to home ownership. There are a number of schemes including the HomeBuy scheme, Right to Buy, Right to Acquire and Cash Incentive Scheme.

Housing Market Renewal: a programme to renew the housing market in those parts of the North and Midlands where demand for housing is relatively weak and which have seen significant decline in population, dereliction, poor services and poor social conditions as a result. Its objective is to renew failing or weak housing markets and reconnect them to regional markets.

Local area agreement: a 3 year agreement between Central Government and a local area. The agreement sets out priority issues for local action and what partners will deliver.

Local Government White Paper: a White Paper sets out Government policy. The latest Local Government White Paper Strong and prosperous communities, published in October 2006, covered a wide range of measures to empower local government and its local partners, and to empower citizens and communities.

Local:vision: a debate on the future role of local government that started in July 2004 and formed the basis of the White Paper. It looked at a new relationship between central and local government, and a new framework for devolution to local government and communities.

Minerals Planning Statements (MPS):  set out the Government's policy on minerals and planning issues and provide advice and guidance to local authorities and the minerals industry on policies and the operation of the planning system with regard to minerals.

Mineral planning authorities must take their contents into account in preparing their development plans. The guidance may also be material to decisions on individual planning applications and appeals.

Marine Minerals Guidance Notes (MMG): detail the Government's policies and procedures on the extraction of minerals by dredging the seabed in English marine waters.

New Dimension: a programme to equip the Fire and Rescue Service with mass decontamination, search and rescue and high volume pumping capability.

Neighbourhood Renewal: a national strategy to improve outcomes on worklessness, crime, health, education, housing and the physical environment, as well as narrowing the gap between the poorest neighbourhoods in England and the rest of the country.

Partnership in meeting public needs: public bodies' involvement of citizens and communities, within the established democratic framework, in improving the planning and delivery of public services.

Public services: services that are wholly or partly funded through taxation. They include national, regional and local government and statutory agencies.

Planning Policy Statements (PPS): are prepared by the Government after public consultation. PPSs explain statutory provisions and provide guidance to local authorities and others on planning policy and the operation of the planning system.

They also explain the relationship between planning policies and other policies which have an important bearing on issues of development and land use.

Regional Development Agencies (RDAs): a total of nine agencies who promote regional economic development. They help regions to be more competitive and reduce imbalance both between different regions and within the same region.

Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS): the regional planning document;  the RSS, incorporates a Regional Transport Strategy, provides a broad development strategy for the region for a fifteen to twenty year period. The RSS also informs the preparation of Local Development Documents , Local Transport Plans  and regional and sub-regional strategies and programmes.

Resilience: the ability to detect, prevent and respond to all kinds of emergency.

Single Regeneration Budget (SRB): a way of funding a number of programmes from several Government Departments. The SRB simplifies and streamlines the assistance available for regeneration. SRB commitment ended in 2007.

Strengthened communities: communities that are able to form and sustain their own organisations, and to bring people together to deal with their common concerns to improve the planning and delivery of public services.

Supporting People Programme: offers vulnerable people the opportunity to improve their quality of life by providing a stable environment which enables greater independence. It will deliver cost effective, reliable, high quality and strategically planned housing-related services, and complement existing care services. The planning and development of services will be needs led. Supporting People is a working partnership of local government, service users and support agencies.

Sustainable communities: places where people want to live and work, now and in the future. They meet the needs of existing and future residents, are sensitive to their environment, and contribute to a high quality of life. They are safe and inclusive, well planned, built and run, and offer equality of opportunity and good services for all.

Sustainable urban design: how the design of our towns and cities must concentrate not only on making them visually attractive. It also needs to address issues such as economic viability, encouraging regeneration of run down areas and creating communities that are cohesive, safe, clean and green.

The State of the English Cities: a comprehensive report looking at 56 major towns and cities in England. It reports on how our cities are doing and what is needed for them to improve.

Third Sector: non-governmental organisations with cultural, social and environmental objectives. It includes voluntary and community organisations, charities, social enterprises, cooperatives and mutuals, and housing associations.

Urban Regeneration Companies URCs: companies who are set up specifically to redevelop and bring investment back into our worst cities and towns. They are funded by a variety of public sector partners.

Voluntary sector: groups whose activities are carried out other than for profit but which are not public or local authorities. These organisations would normally be formally constituted and employ paid professional and administrative staff. They may or may not use volunteer help.

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