UPDATE – Political parties comment on Community Shares issue

Conservatives, Greens and Labour have so far responded directly to our article posted yesterday about proposed “community shares” designed to offset cuts in local services currently funded by Council Tax and via grants to local authorities from national Government.

(The original story is here.)

Here are those parties’ comments:

“It is not fair that pressure on public finances translates into cuts to essential services for those who needs them the most and we will oppose any further privatisation.

“The Green Party strongly believes that local provision and access to high quality public services such as schools, libraries, hospitals, nurseries, post offices and public transport are essential to maintain thriving communities and a good quality of life for all.

“However we do recognise that local groups can have a very positive role to play in supporting their communities; but some services can only be delivered properly by – and be the responsibility of – local authorities. Community-based activity should be fostered but need to be additional and complementary to local authority services.”

Steve Barnard
Green Party candidate for Sheffield Hallam

“Anything that pushes the running and provision closer to those people who require them should be welcomed.  The third sector within the UK usually provides services more efficiently and effectively than bureaucratic monoliths of state.  The fear is that the council tax payer will be paying twice for services they should receive from the local council; however I hope that the transfer of services to more local providers will provide better services, and more efficiency, that in turn will reduce the burden on the tax payer.”

John Sharp
Conservative Parliamentary Candidate
Sheffield Brightside & Hillsborough

“There are many exciting new ways of delivering local services and providing community resources that involve local charities, community and voluntary groups. I think its important that the government helps to develop these ideas and explores different ways of community ownership. I’d like to hear local people’s views on this issue.”

Paul Blomfield (via Tom Hunt Campaign Organiser, Sheffield Central Labour Party)
Labour Parliamentary Candidate
Sheffield Central

  • NB: The Liberal Democrat response will be posted once (or if) received.

What do you think? Do you believe Council Tax payers should have to buy these new proposed “community shares” in order to fund local services?

Let us know by leaving a comment on this page or by emailing us!


5 responses to “UPDATE – Political parties comment on Community Shares issue

  1. It is unfortunate and unhelpful to the Third Sector that the CLG PR people chose to lead the Department’s report of John Denham’s speech in the context of threatened public service cuts. He also said: “”Today’s roundtable discussion has shown that councils, who are shifting their focus to the needs of the user – the Total Place approach – know this and are finding their aims for the community could be met in a more joined up way; with the third sector having a real role to play in delivering services, positive social outcome and efficiencies if the barriers can be removed, which is why we have published a new framework.” (Read the CLG press release here: http://bit.ly/9RnIHQ)

    The new Community Enterprise Strategic Framework to which John Denham refers can be found at http://bit.ly/cLzYx5

    “Community Shares”are supported by The Development Trusts Association and Co-operatives UK. (See http://bit.ly/8ixHGW ). Of the 5 third sector organisations chosen in October 2009 to take part in a government research project into financing community-owned social enterprises, one is Sheffield Renewables (http://bit.ly/9C9TMb). Another, which I know will personally interest my colleague Steve Barnard who has responded above for the Green Party, is Oxford Cycle Workshop Training Ltd (http://bit.ly/cHqUTd)

    John Denham also mentioned co-ops. There’s been quite a buzz about ‘mutuals’ and ‘mutualisation’ recently. There’s an interesting article in Prospect magazine – several of the links worth following through: “The risks and benefits of employee ownership”. ( http://bit.ly/cpsk65 )

    As Paul Blomfield says: “I think its important that the government helps to develop these ideas and explores different ways of community ownership.” On this occasion, John Denham, for the Government, seems to have tried to do just that.

  2. Is it a case that if we don’t buy these shares our council tax will rise anyway to compensate?….Extortion? May be its the Hoods who run the councils rather than the Hoodies in the community who are the real gangsters!? Are we really sure what we are funding at times anyway with our council tax and why? If all this has come about due to the financial down turn and banking crisis, then may be we should be looking at how the banks could top up this funding crisis with their profits or money due back to us as tax payers!? As usual the services that will suffer are those ones that benefit the poorer in our communities as it is those that are poor who have came worse off in the current down turn. Next we will read about a proposed community lottery to fund the services. Top prize….. All you can eat from your local chippy, Mcdonalds or Greggs for a lifetime! If you live that long of course .. Or is that going to cost the council too much and if so we might have to buy shares to fund it as well as buying a ticket?

  3. 1. Encouragement by central and local government of the role of the third sector and by local community groups in delivery of public services is much too important of itself to be debated in the narrow context of public sector cuts. Cuts or no cuts we need to recognise as John Sharp does the value of local people running local services and social enterprises; and as Paul Blomfield advocates, the role of Government in helping develop “new ideas for delivering local services” and exploring “different ways of community ownership”.
    2. Many of the ‘new’ ideas are not so new. Central and local government already have considerable scope for encouraging local communities. One quick example: local councils can already arrange the transfer of local buildings to, for instance, community development trusts – it is known as “asset transfer” – and underpins asset-based development of community centres and so on.
    3. Taking the examples in the original article (post offices, pubs) and your example of the “less cuddly essentials” such as advice bureaux, I would suggest a distinction between those local community projects which are profit-generating primarily through sales and those which are patently not. The business models for each might be radically different, and perhaps not both suitable for the ‘community shares’ model. However, we need always to be open to imaginative solutions.
    4. As one who has had some responsibility for developing “a less cuddly” project, outside NWSheffield’s patch, at High Green, I have no doubt that the openness of a local authority to change and new ideas (and working comfortably with the third sector) is crucial – the ‘playing field’ not being even and so much depending on council willingness to engage. (The same applies in some contexts to the local PCT).
    5. I would be interested to read the comments of the local Lib-Dem candidate, (Sheffield currently having a Lib-Dem led Council); a Green Party representative and, if you could get them, the comments of Ed Mayo, new CEO of Co-ops UK.

    • Well, the Greens, Labour and Conservatives all put in some kind of response – as seen in this particular post.

      However, most disappointing was that the Lib-Dems promised last week to get a response to us but have, to date, not delivered.

      Many thanks to the politicians who responded and to everyone who commented across the different posts related to this subject.


  4. This is typical of the government who offer promises of lowering costs to the general public just to get into office (they all do it) then put taxes up to pay for this and that once they’re elected. They’ve gone too far this time. The rate of council tax we pay is worked out by the council based on what they want to spend it on. We pay it, so where’s it gone? I’m discusted that they spend our hard earned money then cut funding where it’s supposed to go and ask us for more money to subsidise payments we’ve already made. In case the council haven’t noticed we’ve just been through a recession, things are tight, people don’t have extra cash to pay twice and why should they? The council get enough money off me in council tax, I don’t want to pay them any more.

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