Space for community: strengthening our social infrastructure

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A new report by the British Academy and Power to Change explores how social infrastructure contributes to communities’ wellbeing, helps develop their resilience and tackles deepening geographic inequalities.

The British Academy and Power to Change came together in early 2022 to collectively explore questions relating to social infrastructure and its value to different communities. The Bennett Institute for Public Policy and the Institute for Community Studies were commissioned to undertake two related research projects. The first of these explored examples of international policy interventions that aim to strengthen social infrastructure to draw out learning for UK policymakers. The second involved peer research into community definitions and understandings of social infrastructure in England.

This report brings together the findings of these two research projects. It aims to deepen our understanding of social infrastructure, and so give policymakers (national, regional and local), civil society leaders, and communities themselves the insights needed to strengthen this infrastructure and help meet current and future challenges. The report explores three aspects of social infrastructure: 1) the use of social infrastructure to support the social fabric of places; 2) treating social infrastructure as an infrastructure; and 3) defining the purpose of social infrastructure. For each of these three aspects, policy considerations arising from the findings of the research have been drawn out.


The key facts