Examples of localism in practice
Community ownership of land and buildings
A 2008 Joseph Rowntree Foundation review of evidence from the UK and beyond indicated that various benefits can derive from community ownership of land and buildings, including: independent income sources and financial sustainability; organisational stability suitable for undertaking long-term development work; improved partnership work due to possession of a needed commodity; an engine to drive the local economy towards environmental and social improvements; the building of community pride, networks and skills, and empowered citizens. The review also noted some risks, for example organisations being pulled away from their core activities and becoming burdened with the regulatory burden of asset management; small community groups and black and minority ethnic groups being excluded from the benefits of asset ownership. However, the review pointed out that there had, at that time, been little independent evaluation of the benefits and risks.
The 2014 Locality survey of 492 community enterprises in Locality membership in England revealed that these organisations together employed 10,500 staff, mobilised 24,000 volunteers, had 384,000 community beneficiaries, supported 13,000 community groups and 9,000 local businesses, generated £223m earned income, and owned £652m assets. On average each organisation provided 12 different activities and services in its local community.
The 2014 Plunkett Foundation survey of 309 community-run village shops showed a combined £48m trading turnover, supported by 8,000 volunteers. 95% of the shops stocked local food, and 70% offered a postal service. Impacts include reduction in social isolation and environmental benefits.
A 2014 report by Locality highlighted that communities which had used the new neighbourhood planning powers had, for example, been able to designate areas where new housing should be built, enabled new homes to be built above shops, allowed changes of use to safeguard the future of a High Street, provided permission to convert disused buildings into new workspace, and protected local green spaces.
Neighbourhood community organising
A 2014 survey for the Cabinet Office assessed the early stages of the England-wide Community Organiser programme, which trained neighbourhood based community organisers, with the aim of encouraging people to create social and political change through collective action, with priorities set by local people. This report found that people living in localities where community organising had taken place reported an above average sense of belonging to their neighbourhood. There was also higher than average agreement that local people pull together to improve the neighbourhood, and people were more prepared to take action to influence local decisions, eg organise or sign a petition, or organise a group or contact local media (although they were less likely to contact their local MP).