What ever happened to ‘taking back control’?

Six years ago, the country voted to leave the European Union. Now, as yet another Prime Minister prepares to enter Downing Street, We’re Right Here has been asking: whatever happened to ‘taking back control’?

We’ve worked with the polling company Opinium to ask people across the country for their views on who has control over the decisions that shape their places and futures – and who should have more of a say. And we’ve found that people feel increasingly disenfranchised, lacking control over spaces, services and spending decisions.

But we also found an appetite for community-led decision-making, with large proportions in favour of shifting power away from central government and towards communities.

Our key findings:

People want to take back control

Most people think that to deliver on the spirit of the Brexit vote and people’s desire to “take back control”, the government needs to give people more of a say over the decisions that shape their communities.

A similar story is true of Conservative Members, almost two-thirds (61%) of whom agree or strongly agree.

People feel they have no control over local issues that affect their every day.

Forty four percent of people feel they have no control over important decisions – a feeling that has significantly deepened even since last year. This figure rises to more than three-quarters (78%) when combined with those who feel they have little control.

I know from my work in my community that people want more power and more say in what happens on their doorstep,” says Deana Wildgoose, one of our campaign leaders who works at Coalville Communities and Neighbourhoods (CAN) in Leicestershire. “The people who live and graft here know what will make our communities better. In recent years, we’ve been promised greater control to deliver that. Where is it?

There is almost no appetite for empowering central government

Only 3% of people think national government and politicians in Westminster should have the most say over what happens in their local area, compared to 44% who believe that power should lie with local people.

These findings are backed up by polling conducted by Britain Thinks on behalf of New Local earlier this year which found that 79% of people believe ‘the best decisions are made when the people who will be affected are closely involved in the process’ .

Conservative members want community power

As we enter the tail end of the Tory leadership contest, almost double the number of party members who will vote to decide our next prime minister say they want a leader with a clear plan to transfer more power to communities (33%), compared to those who don’t (17%).

For the incoming Prime Minister, the case for a Community Power Act is clear. We’re calling for a fundamental change to where power lies in this country, giving communities legal rights over public spaces, services and spending. Empowering local people, and enabling them to take back control in the areas they live, this Act would:

  1. Establish new community rights giving local people greater opportunities to shape and manage spaces, services and spending in their area.
  2. Create Community Covenants between communities and councils, giving local people a bigger role in shaping services and taking control of community spaces.
  3. Establish an independent Community Power Commissioner to hold the government accountable for upholding communities’ right to take back control.

It’s time to embrace the talent, passion, ingenuity and determination contained within each and every one of our neighbourhoods, and bring about a major shift in where power lies.