The CREATE Consortium launched the Community Allowance campaign in May 2008 to enable community organisations to pay people to do work that strengthens their neighbourhood without it affecting any of their benefits.
The CREATE Consortium has developed the ‘Community Allowance’ proposal over the last seven years, based on the experience of hundreds of community organisations working in the most deprived neighbourhoods across the UK.
Members of the CREATE Consortium believe that many of the most complex social problems in our deprived estates need to be tackled by local people with local expertise. For years government has been trying to encourage local people to take charge of their community, but rarely has it been possible to pay local people to do local work. Why? The benefits system is not geared up to support people who try to do part time, sessional or irregular work, which is typical of the kind of work available in deprived communities.
Right to Bid scheme, November 2008 Edit
The CREATE Consortium have written to supporters to let them know that "we are writing an application for permission to pilot the Community Allowance through the DWP’s exciting new Right to Bid scheme. The Right to Bid was announced recently by James Purnell MP as a unique opportunity for the DWP to “explore innovative ideas from external organisations”; there are “are no constraints on ideas which can be proposed under Right to Bid”.
We want to hear from community organisations from across the UK that are interested in being part of the Community Allowance pilot programme.
We have developed a simple online form for organisations to complete by 12th December. This will enable them to shape our bid to DWP and they will automatically be added to the list of organisations interested in piloting the Community Allowance. We will get back in touch with all potential pilot partners in early 2009.
Please help us to spread the word by forwarding this email or including a version of it in your next email out to your members/community organisations you work with.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or suggestions."
Lisa Banks is a resident on the Coffee Hall estate in Milton Keynes where the average life expectancy is 58. Determined to change things for the better, she has been trying to regenerate her community. Last year, she was asked to become a Parish Councillor, a position for which she receives just over £300 per year.
When she told the benefits office about this, they cut her benefits, including her housing benefit. Unsurprisingly she fell into arrears on her rent and was threatened with eviction. In desperation she borrowed from a loan shark, paying back double the amount that she borrowed each week from her benefits. Lisa's situation is typical of thousands of people who have their benefits thrown into chaos when they declare part time or sessional work.
- “Our research shows that the benefits system is outdated, full of traps and bureaucratic. Lisa’s story is just one example of how the current benefits system is a major barrier to getting into work and tackling problems in our most deprived communities. The Community Allowance would act as a bridge for people to begin the journey into work. We have estimated it could create around 80 part time jobs in every neighbourhood and it will unlock the talents in neighbourhoods by tackling worklessness, developing skills, helping to tackle child poverty and promoting enterprise and regeneration in deprived communities.” Aaron Barbour from Community Links
- “We are currently in discussion with Stephen Timms MP, Minister for Work, about the possibility of piloting the Community Allowance across the UK. This is a real opportunity to get the benefits regulations changed for the better so we are asking anyone who feels strongly about this issue to email their MP through our website www.communityallowance.org.” Chair of the CREATE Consortium, Jess Steele, who has presented the Community Allowance proposal to 11 different Ministers
- “There are so many people who want to work in their local community, but won’t in case it rocks their benefits. The Community Allowance would change communities for the better. People would get out to work, get some invaluable experience, earn a bit of money and do something that’s going to inspire them.” Lisa Banks, who features in the campaign’s film, Benefits Rule
Related topics Edit
- www.communityallowance.org, information about the Community Allowance proposal along stories of people and organisations that have been adversely affected by the benefits regulations.
- Right to Bid, Department for Work and Pensions
- Press release from the Create Consortium, May 2008