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Communities and neighbourhoods

Building the Big Society

The Big Society is the Government's vision of a society where individuals and communities have more power and responsibility, and use it to create better neighbourhoods and local services.

It lies at the heart of the Department's work in housing, planning, regeneration and local government.

The Prime Minister has stated that 'the people are the boss' and that four tools - competition, choice, payment by results and transparency - are essential to achieving a radical shift of power away from the centre.

The Minister for Decentralisation, Greg Clark, has set out three actions for the Big Society to flourish:

  • the right to know
  • the right to challenge and
  • turning Government on its head

And he described three elements being essential to creating the Big Society:

"The first is about what the state can do for us. The second is about what we can do for ourselves. And the third is about what we can do for others."

Vanguard areas

The Big Society is already happening in many local communities. The Prime Minister announced the launch of four Big Society 'vanguard areas' in a speech in Liverpool on 19 July 2010. The four areas are:

  • Liverpool
  • Eden Valley (Cumbria)
  • Windsor and Maidenhead
  • London Borough of Sutton

Each will come forward with proposals to take forward innovative local projects which embrace Big Society principles.

Barrier busting

Each vanguard area is supported by a dedicated team of civil servants from the Department who will help them achieve their projects by, for example, removing bureaucratic barriers such as:

  • unnecessary planning regulations
  • restrictions on local involvement in decisions about issues affecting them;
  • excessive form filling which prevents local initiatives

Engaging partners

The Big Society will be created by community groups, social entrepreneurs and practitioners who will help make it a reality on the ground. Minister for Decentralisation, Greg Clark, and Communities Minister, Andrew Stunell, have met a range of partners at three roundtable events in London, Bristol and Bradford to hear their views on how the Big Society can be created and the type of support needed to ensure it becomes reality.

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