Rebalancing The Power

  • 29th Jul 2022

Five principles for a successful relationship between councils and communities

The role of the council and councillor is changing. In the context of reducing budgets, growing demand pressures and shifting public expectations, the traditional role of the local authority as service deliverer has a diminishing impact. As many services are pared back, demographic changes mean people need different types of support, and there is increasing recognition that communities may have to take the lead in solving their own problems.

There is a growing sense that the role of the local authority is shifting towards that of an action enabler. This means that instead of always directly delivering services, councils increasingly need to take on a facilitating role and foster a wider ecosystem of support and activity. This requires a very different relationship with communities – the traditional paternalistic approach of councils deciding what services an area needs, with councillors leading from the front, will now need to shift towards a mode of operating which listens, supports and enables.

About the authors:

Rebalancing the Power: Five principles for a successful relationship between councils and communities was researched and written by NLGN and published by Local Trust in September 2018.

New Local Government Network (NLGN) is an independent think tank that seeks to transform public services, revitalise local political leadership and empower local communities. NLGN is producing this report as part of its programme of research and innovative policy projects, which we hope will be of use to policymakers and practitioners. 

Local Trust Local Trust was established in 2012 to deliver Big Local, a unique programme that puts residents across the country in control of decisions about their own lives and neighbourhoods. Funded by a £200m endowment from the Big Lottery Fund – the largest ever single commitment of lottery funds – Big Local provides in excess of £1m of long-term funding over 10-15 years to each of 150 local communities, many of which face major social and economic challenges but have missed out on statutory and lottery funding in the past.