Empower communities, don’t just tinker with Westminster

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Power to Change responds to the Labour Party’s Report of the Commission on the UK’s Future.

New polling for Power to Change shows that the public favour empowering local people and communities over abolition of the House of Lords as a way of restoring trust in politics.

  • Three quarters of people feel that they have ‘not very much’ or ‘no control’ over the important decisions that affect their neighbourhood and local community. This has been a consistent finding over the last four years.
  • Two thirds of people think giving more power to local people is likely to restore their trust in politics while 62% think the same for giving power to community organisations. This drops to 52% for abolishing the House of Lords and replacing it with an elected chamber.

We need to put power in the hands of local people and community organisations to unlock community power. This is the strong preference of the public. With Keir Starmer preparing for the next election, now is a good opportunity for him to stitch together aspects of the Gordon Brown Report of the Commission on the UK’s Future. The report builds on the community power agenda emanating from Lisa Nandy’s Shadow Levelling Up team and the economic devolution recently set out by Rachel Reeves.

There are ready-made solutions that give Labour the tools to unlock community power and restore trust in our politics. We recommend the Labour Party explores the following proposals as a means to doing this:


  • Introduce a Community Power Act to change where power lies in this country. The Act would give communities a right to control spaces, services, and spending decisions in their local area. This would help establish a dynamic new form of governance at the local level, leading to more responsive public services, better decisions about local public spending and greater local power and say over important buildings and spaces. This is a ready-made vehicle to deliver on recommendations two and 15 in the Brown Report.
  • Expand and extend the Community Ownership Fund to £300m over four years to financially empower communities. This could put 1,300 spaces into stable community ownership, which would create at least 5,000 jobs and 30,000 volunteering opportunities. This would complement existing measures Labour has adopted to boost community ownership, such as a Community Right to Buy.

The key facts