Director of policy & communications
“The government has, understandably, sought to steady the ship in today’s Autumn Statement after a turbulent few months. But with the UK now facing a recession, we know that communities – and the community businesses that serve them – will see an increased demand on services which are already under strain. Continued pressures on public services will further exacerbate this. Community businesses will continue to provide vital support in their places through the oncoming challenges of a recession and can support those furthest from the labour market to build their skills and employability. But while community businesses are resilient, they need certainty and support from the government to make it through the current crisis.
“We welcome the government’s announcement on energy support for individuals, but that reassurance is still lacking for businesses and is needed much sooner than next spring, as many community businesses are already facing challenging decisions due to the energy crisis. In its review of targeted business support, the government must provide certainty and support for community businesses so that they can make it through the current crisis and play a role in the government’s promise to deliver on energy efficiency.
“The government must not forget the promises it made in 2019 to level up the country and put more power in community hands. While we welcome today’s announcement to commit to a further round of levelling up funding at the same levels, we know that inflation has increased costs for levelling up projects. These existing projects need more flexibility on timescales and what they deliver if we are to see levelling up funding translate into real-world change. The lack of inflation-proofing for round two of the Levelling Up Fund is insufficient to deliver on this agenda, and we need more details on the future of other levelling up funds such as the Community Ownership Fund and UK Shared Prosperity Fund, both powerful vehicles to building growth and resilience in local communities.
“It is good to see progress on devolution deals, but we urge the government to look at how devolution can go deeper, not just wider, to reach the neighbourhood level – for example through community covenants. These new neighbourhood-level governance arrangements, announced in the Levelling Up White Paper, have the potential to meet people’s demand for greater local control.
“Through this difficult period, the government must not lose sight of the ambition it showed in the Levelling Up White Paper. We will continue to work with them to ensure that community businesses are supported; power is spread evenly throughout the country and communities have the support they need to make their places better.”