Thanet council is backing calls for a Community Wealth Fund that could see deprived areas awarded £2milion, which residents will decide how to spend.
The authority is one of ten across the country that has joined to appeal to government to set up the scheme for ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods.
Residents would be able to direct spending, through community boards, which could see investment in facilities such as community centres and shared business spaces.
The cash awards would be made to each community to spend over a 10-15 year period in a bid to turn their areas around.
An alliance of some 250 organisations is calling on government to make the proposal a reality, by releasing the next wave of dormant, or orphaned, assets from stocks, shares, bonds and insurance policies to create a £4bn endowment.
The proposal has the support of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods.
Launched earlier this summer, the Group was set up to find long-term policy solutions to improve the social and economic prospects of 225 wards identified as being both the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country and those with the least community provision. They are neighbourhoods which lack places for people to meet, community activities and have low levels of digital connectivity and poor local transport.
Thanet District Council has five ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods: Cliftonville West, Eastcliff, Newington, Northwood and Dane Valley.
Councillor Rob Yates, Cabinet Member for Finance, Admin and Community Wealth Building, said: “As a coastal area in the perceived ‘rich South East’, I fully support this scheme to provide social infrastructure investment to some of the most deprived and ‘left behind’ wards in our country.
“Such investment could do so much to reduce deprivation as well as improve skills and outcomes in these areas. This is a national issue and needs to be addressed as such. We are proud to put our names to the Community Wealth Fund Alliance and hope other councils will follow suit.”
Thanet council has already included a community wealth building model in its Covid recovery plans. This involves the authority and other large organisations in the district buying goods and services locally.
The community wealth building plan, which had previously been discussed as part of the council’s budget plans, would aim to use local businesses for TDC’s contracts to generate more local spending.
The proposal, which has been tagged Enterprising Thanet, is based on the Preston Model where the council and larger anchor businesses redirect their annual spend to local businesses and enterprises.
Preston City Council adopted the model in 2013. Work has included establishing a publicly-owned investment bank to support local small businesses and social enterprises.
‘A better future’
Margaret Bolton Director of Policy at Local Trust, who provide the secretariat to the Alliance, said: “Local authorities are perfectly placed to help make the Community Wealth Fund a reality, and we’re keen to see support for the idea building across all tiers of local government.
“The pandemic has brought home to all of us the importance of place and the value of community action and working together. A Community Wealth Fund would provide long-term funding and support for such activity, helping to create stronger and more resilient communities, able to work with their local councils to meet community needs and respond to community aspirations, building community wealth and creating a better future for the communities that feel most left behind”.
For more information about the Community Wealth Fund, or to sign your organisation up to the Alliance visit bit.ly/CommunityWealthFund