Have your say: embracing the contribution and needs of rural communities in Big Society

At a time when organisations and individuals are encouraged to have greater involvement in the running of public services as part of the Government’s Big Society initiative, there are concerns that many organisations are experiencing or facing funding cuts including in rural England.

The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) would like to hear your views and experiences, to help them advise Government on ways of fully embracing the contribution and needs of rural communities in the Big Society.

The Commission for Rural Communities is keen to show that rural communities and organisations have already embraced the community approach to identifying and tackling their needs that lies at the heart of the Big Society approach.  However, they also want to ensure that central and local government recognise, celebrate and more importantly support the continuation of your efforts, for the benefit of rural people.

Defra is commencing a project jointly with the CRC to ensure that we can advise government departments and their Ministers how to fully embrace the contribution and needs of rural communities in the Big Society.

One of the first opportunities, with your help, is to put something to the Rural Affairs Minister in early September, about the effect of the economic climate and current and planned changes in public spending on civil society organisations working with rural communities.  The CRC will follow this up at the beginning of October with a fuller report.

It is because of this early opportunity to inform Defra Ministers of the impact of public spending cuts on civil society organisations working in rural communities that CRC is asking for your help to answer the questions in the current call for evidence.  Any information you can provide to CRC by 27 August will be used to inform a report to the Rural Affairs Minister in early September.  For this first short report, the CRC would particularly welcome the experience of organisations working to improve economic opportunities and viability of rural areas and people.  This might include for example organisations who are working to improve the employability of young people or the unemployed, that undertake training, represent local businesses, or who are working on community development or regenerating rural and community assets.  This will allow us to alert Defra ministers to current experience and views of how the Big Society will help this work.

By the week commencing 13 September CRC would welcome information from organisations which work with any issues and communities in rural society to improve their environmental, social or economic wellbeing and future. This should include those from the first group who found that meeting the August deadline too challenging.

For further information, and to download the specific questions in the first stage of the call for evidence please see this page on the CRC’s website.

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