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"The next generation of solutions to social problems will come not from Whitehall but from local groups.'

News UK 2010

Citizens demand more opportunity to tackle social challenges, 23/02/2010. Eight out of ten people believe the government should allow communities to come up with their own solutions to difficult social challenges such as climate change, youth crime and obesity. New report from NESTA outlines radical framework for implementing localism. [1]
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Nick Hurd on Mass Localism. About 3 min. 23 February 2010
Nick Hurd on Mass Localism

Nick Hurd on Mass Localism

'Mass Localism' is a research report from the (UK) National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), published February 2010, which outlines ways in which policymakers can capitalise on the innovation which rests in local communities. These include a radical increase in the government's openness to working with community groups, building the capability of citizens, and establishing clear and measurable outcomes for public services, against which communities can deliver.

The research shows that people are seven times more likely to get involved in a project to tackle these issues if they are locally-led. It points to a compelling alternative to costly, centrally driven initiatives. Government funds would be redirected from Whitehall to community groups so that they can implement their ideas.

But whilst the public has the desire to get involved in solving social issues, the research suggests that they don't have the tools to do so. A quarter of UK adults have had an idea to tackle issues in their community, yet only 17% have done anything about it. The biggest barrier to taking action is not knowing where to get the right support, with 80% saying they would progress their idea if there was appropriate support in place.

NESTA is challenging the Government to use these principles to begin to put localism into practice. It is calling for the establishment of a series of 'open community challenge funds' - Informed by NESTA's 'Big Green Challenge', a £1million prize fund designed to unlock the power of communities in reducing carbon emissions. The winners reduced CO2 emissions by an impressive 10-32% in just one year alone - to stimulate local responses to major social issues on a much larger scale. It claims that doing so would also lead to significant savings.

The Mass Localism report was developed with leaders of public services, civil servants and 350 community groups who participated in NESTA's Big Green Challenge, a £1million prize fund to find innovative ways of cutting CO2 emissions in their local communities.

Further results of the community involvement research show that:

  • Ideas generation to tackle social issues are not defined by socio-economic status. Those earning under £15,000 a year are just as likely to have an idea to tackle a social issue (21%) and are more likely to develop them (25%) compared to those earning over £75,000 (23% and 20% respectively). Similarly, 1 in 5 (19%) unemployed people have had an idea to tackle a social issue.
  • Time and commitment is not a constraint for lack of involvement. Only 3% of people see lack of time as a barrier to progressing an idea and only 2.4% believe it's not their responsibility.

The research was carried out independently by Opinion Matters between 11th February - 15th February 2010 with a sample size of 2003 UK adults.

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  1. National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) , 23/02/2010
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