Docstoc

Briefing Paper

Document Sample
Briefing Paper Powered By Docstoc
					Briefing Paper                                                       Date: 30 October 2006

  Local Government White Paper – Strong and Prosperous Communities
                                              Community Cohesion
This briefing paper is based on the report:                Intended distribution:
DCLG Local Government White Paper ‘Strong and Prosperous   www.basingstoke.gov.uk
Communities’
Volume 1 – Chapter 8
Volume 2
Response required by:                                      Author:
Not applicable                                             Policy and Partnerships, BDBC




Background
This briefing paper is on chapter 8 of the White Paper, with a reference to the cross cutting
themes (Community safety, Health and wellbeing, Vulnerable people, Children, young people
and families, Economic develoment, housing and planning, Climate Change and the Third
Sector) presented in Volume 2.
Community cohesion is defined as recognising the impact of change and responding to it . This
is a fundamental and growing part of the place-shaping agenda, putting local authorities and
their partners at the heart of community building.
Community cohesion is about understanding issues relating to ethnicity, religion, language,
migration, culture and belief. The challenge is to draw on the benefits that migration and
diversity bring while adressing the potential problems and risks to cohesion. However the
challenge goes beyond this. We need to forge cohesive, self confident and prosperous
communities that are at ease with themselves.
The White Paper draws upon previous work, publications and practices for example :
1.    Community Cohesion: A Report of the Independent Review Team (Home Office: 2001),
     sharing lessons learnt from community cohesion panels established to resolve tensions
     and bring people together following disturbances in a number of northern towns in 2001.
2. Community Cohesion : Seven Steps, a Practioner’s Toolkit (Home Office and ODPM:
   2005) to support to areas at risk of experiencing tensions
3. Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society (Home Office: 2005) the Government’s
   strategy to ensure all people can make a full contribution to society, increase race
   equality, promote community cohesion and reduce social exclusion.
4. Leading Cohesive Communities, a guide for local authority leaders and chief executives,
   (LGA and IDeA: 2006)
5. The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 a duty on local authorities to eliminate unlawful
   racial harassment and promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons
   of different racial and ethnic groups, including Gypsies and Travellers.
In addition, two Reviews are informing the community cohesion agenda:
     The Discrimination Law Review is considering an integrated public sector equality duty
        covering race, disability, gender, sexual orientation, religion or belief and age.
        Proposals will be published in a Green Paper for public consultation.
         The Independent Equalities Review will make practical recommendations on key policy
          priorities for Government, public sector, and key stakeholders/partners. The Review will
          be published in February 2007.




                                                                                                 1
Key Issues
Chapter 8 of the White Paper sets out the importance of local councils leading the
response to the challenges created by an increasingly divers society. This is to be
done by incorporating community cohesion across council structures and processes,
tackling extremism and by implementing the conclusions of the Commission on
Integration and Cohesion. Proposals include:
      working with local authorities and their partners to identify those places where
       cohesion should be a local priority reflected in improvement targets in Local Area
       Agreements (LAAs);
      ensuring a clear focus on outcomes as part of the new performance framework, linked
       to LAAs and the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 (CSR07) and disseminating
       learning through the national good practice programme;
      providing new guidance on how overview and scrutiny can support community
       cohesion;
      supporting local establishment of forums on extremism where necessary;
      encouraging the Commission on Integration and Cohesion to provide detailed plans
       on promotion of cohesion;
      providing support and challenge when areas are facing difficulties in line with the
       approach to improvement, support and intervention described in chapter 6;
      emphasising the importance of promoting community cohesion through Local
       Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) and Sustainable Community Strategies
      sharing best practice effectively between local authorities who have longstanding
       experiences of immigration and those for whom the impact is comparatively recent
The executive summary of the White Paper states:
Britain is now a more diverse society – ethnically, racially and culturally. Diversity has brought
enormous economic benefits, but change and migration also create challenges. We need to
draw on the benefits that migration and diversity bring while addressing the potential problems
and risks to community cohesion. Stronger local leadership, greater resident participation in
decisions and an enhanced role for community groups can help all local areas to promote
community cohesion. We will work with local authorities facing particular community cohesion
challenges; provide support for areas facing difficulties; help share best practice between
authorities; and support the establishment of forums on extremism in parts of the country
where they are necessary. We will also encourage the Commission on Integration and
Cohesion to produce more detailed plans on how to deliver a step change in promoting
cohesion.
The White Paper outlines the following eight guiding principles for successful community
cohesion:

1. Developing strong leadership and engagement an agreed local vision arrived at through
engagement and advocated by strong respected leaders to:
     reduce the risk of tensions;
     make and explain difficult decisions;
     get to the truth of and answer allegations about special treatment for particular groups;
     justify difficult policy decisions(for example, housing policy or regeneration matters).
2. Developing shared values –a basis for creating a shared future, underpinned by a set of
non-negotiables common across all communities. This may include:
     developing schemes that enhance the understanding of English language amongst
       minorities;
     clear and unequivocal leadership against extremism;
     wider work celebrating diversity as a key piece in the jigsaw.
3. Preventing the problems of tomorrow through conflict resolution projects to:



                                                                                                  2
      reduce potential flashpoints which may have led to tension in the past for example – a
       racist attack or a newspaper report about housing allocations;
      help councils to develop contingency plans to respond better to crisis.
4. Using a good information to systematically monitor, evaluate and review progress and
   prepare for emerging challenges and opportunities. Working with all interested parties/key
   stakeholders to collect data through positive methods of engagement.
5. Providing visible work to tackle inequalities in areas like education, health, housing jobs
   and training, and the regeneration of local areas to provide greater access to services and a
   strong foundation for cohesion.
6. Involving young people in creative ways relevant and attractive to them, preventing
   isolation and exploitation by others.
7. Championing interfaith work to develop and sustain effective channels of
   communications and constructive dialogue across diverse faith groups and communities.
8. Recognising the local third sector (voluntary and community sector organisations) as the
   glue binding communities together (ie working towards shared goals and/or reaching
   grassroots groups whose voice is critical to the debate – such as young people).

Implications

Today’s challenge is how best to draw on the benefits that migration and diversity bring while
addressing the potential problems and risks to cohesion by:
    recognising the impact of change and responding to it;
    putting local authorities and their partners at the heart of community building through
       high calibre local and political leadership enhanced by their ‘place-shaping’ role;
    tackling extremism.
Response to the threat of extremism includes:
    more effective intelligence
    more effective policing
    winning the battle of ideas, hearts and minds gained by developing shared values
The role of local government as leaders of their communities are considered best placed to:
    understand the particular challenges their communities face and work with others to
       decide how to respond;
    use their democratic mandate to offer and develop a shared vision, through the
       Sustainable Community Strategy; co-ordinate different interests, reconcile diverse
       views and encourage the environment for open debate and dialogue;
    begin a dialogue to understand and address the underlying drivers of tensions between
       different groups- such as access to jobs and social housing, crime, disorder, anti-social
       behaviour problems or deep rooted deprivation.

Many of the proposals outlined in the White Paper work towards:
   improving the quality and responsiveness of services to communities,
   increasing resident participation in decision making,
   enhancing the role for community groups,
   strengthening local leadership
   building up the economies of local areas
   empowering councils, in partnership with other public agencies, to take on the place-
      shaping role to build cohesive and self confident communities
The following measures will contribute to implementation of the proposals outlined in the White
Paper:
    organisations promoting cohesion as their core business – ensuring that it transcends/
         cut across and aligns with all strategic frameworks (the Local Development
         Framework, Statement of Community Involvement, Housing and Homelessness
         Strategy, and the Sustainable Community Strategy) to engender confidence and trust
         to meet the expectations of the Comprehensive Engagement Strategy;


                                                                                                 3
     improving leadership capacity –promoting leaders to become high quality advocates of
      cohesion as part of a national strategy;
       supporting local response to recent immigration - capitalising on the positive
         contributions made to economic growth and understanding other impacts by listening
         to the perspective of migrants and established communities on matters such as local
         customs/procedures, housing, employment, education and language requirements;
       working with the Commission on Integration and Cohesion to implement its
        recommendations for swift appropriate responses once published, June 2007;
       dovetailing community cohesion with the thematic cross cutting issues (Community
        Safety, Health and wellbeing, Vulnerable people, Children, young people and families,
        Economic development, housing and planning, Climate change and the Third Sector.

References:                                       Sources:

The Local Government White Paper-Strong and       www.communities.gov.uk
Prosperous Communities




                                                                                               4