Monday, 1 October 2012

The last post, maybe

This blog should have been put to rest some time ago, I guess.  But late last rites are, I hope, better than none.

Empowerment Works has been far from the only effort to energise people to create an alternative narrative to the Big Society that has decided to jack it in. The admirable Our Society website and its crew have done the same, and I can't do better than Julian Dobson in describing why things are as they are in what has turned into an empty space, so far as lively collaboration is concerned. 

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Big society – some evidence

‘Crowding out’ is the notion that if the state withdraws, others will rush in to fill the gap.  It’s popular with big society thinkers.  They may be wrong when it comes to volunteers crowding in, according to the authors of Public Spending and Volunteering: "The Big Society", Crowding Out, and Volunteering Capital.

Monday, 19 December 2011

The Localism Act — Santa or Scrooge?

I’ve opened the shiny present in the capacious Christmas sack of the Localism Act marked ‘new rights and powers for local communities’, and had a horrid disappointment.  It rattled enticingly, but what has fallen out of it strikes me as having greatly more potential to disempower than to empower.  The year’s labour of the Elves over the Bill has, I fear, been wasted.  It’s time to move on.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Localism in Action – the South West way

Would you like some advice on how to get local people more involved in local decision making from people in public authorities whose job is doing this?  It’s in the shape of 52 pages of case studies, tools and tips put together by a group of people with no other motivation than a wish to share what they know.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Neighbourhood planning - will it make any difference

Just thought I'd share a post about new Neighbourhood Planning proposals in the Localism Bill, including a list of the pilot areas in the South West, which is just posted at

Thursday, 27 October 2011

The People’s Budget

Giving people more control over how their area is run is something all political parties say they want, and The People’s Budget is a new campaign to get a much bigger say for local people on how public budgets are spent.  It’s the latest in a series of efforts to interest people in something with a name that is hardly likely to attract headlines and a terrible mouthful to say – Participatory Budgeting.

Persuading local Councillors that their constituents can make better decisions on how to spend money than they can was never going to be easy.  So it’s great that the Participatory Budgeting Unit and others are stirring up more interest in the subject, and using a bit of people power to persuade Councils to move on from using PB just to divvy up small grant pots to taking decisions about serious budgets.  There’s a good discussion on Toby Blume’s Posterous blog.  And there’ll be more here soon, as next week the South West’s PB and Localism Group launches its 52 page guide Localism in Action, which includes 16 pages of case studies tools and tips on PB.  Go to Creating Excellence at for the flyer, and, from 1st November, the guide itself.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Speak up while you can

South West Forum’s timely report mixing useful case studies with grim tidings on how cuts are already muffling the voices that influence decision makers (see previous blog post and here) was welcomed at a meeting at Bath Spa University last week of funders and others who support voluntary sector organisations in the region.

A number of funders have been doing their own surveys into how the cuts are beginning to bite, and sounded gloomy – the representative of one national funder said that the cutbacks in funding advisers and support were really beginning to show.