We have added our support to the call for a Community Wealth Fund, a proposal for a new, independent endowment to invest in the most 'left behind’ neighbourhoods in the country.
We have one ‘left behind’ neighbourhood, Shirebrook north west which has 26.3% of residents aged 16-64 who have a long-term illness - over double the nations’ percentage of residents in the same category (12.7%).
The neighbourhood’s population of adults that have no academic, vocational or professional qualifications is 46.5%, compared to 22.5% in England. And the number of jobs in the local area as a percentage of the working age population is 37.6%, compared to 76.6% across England. This data highlights the urgent need for investment in the area.
In supporting the Community Wealth Fund, we have joined an Alliance of over 340 organisations from civil society and the public and private sectors, supporting the call for significant investment to enable communities to transform their neighbourhoods. There are 21 councils in total that support the Community Wealth Fund.
Council Leader, Councillor Steve Fritchley said: “It’s about time our communities got the help and support they need and deserve instead of being ‘left behind.’ The health and well-being of our residents in Shirebrook is of paramount importance and with a legacy of long-term illness and the current pandemic significantly affecting them, this is an excellent opportunity for us to provide community-led change and one we intend to fight for.
“The Community Wealth Fund will help us tackle economic inequality at a local level, provide better job opportunities and skills and create a fairer district with greater opportunities for everyone.”
The Community Wealth Fund would take a radically different approach to most funding bodies, with communities at a neighbourhood level supported to take spending decisions. Awards of £2m would be made to each community to spend over the long term (10-15 years), building community resilience and strength and increasing their confidence and capacity to turn their areas around.
The Alliance is calling on government to make the proposal a reality, by releasing the next wave of dormant, or orphaned, assets from stocks, shares, bonds and insurance policies to create a £4bn endowment.
The proposal has the support of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods. The Group was set up to find policy solutions to improve the social and economic prospects of the 225 wards identified as being both the most deprived in the country and those with the least community provision as according to research by Local Trust and the Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion. They are neighbourhoods which lack places for people to meet, community activities and have low levels of digital connectivity and poor local transport. They have worse social and economic outcomes than neighbourhoods that are similarly deprived but which have such provision.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group and Community Wealth Fund Alliance are urging Government to adopt the proposal to achieve its objective to ‘level up’.
John Hume, Interim Chair of the Community Wealth Fund Alliance and Chief Executive of People’s Health Trust said: “We are delighted that Bolsover District Council have joined the Alliance of organisations campaigning for the Community Wealth Fund. It demonstrates their strong commitment to securing resources for the most ‘left behind’ communities and ensuring that their social and economic prospects are improved.
“The pandemic is likely to exacerbate the challenges these communities face, particularly the employment and health challenges and a response is urgently needed. This response needs to be one that shifts the dial – not just returning communities to where they were pre pandemic but transforming their fortunes over the long term. The sort of flexible, long term, community-led investment the Community Wealth Fund would provide is in our view a critical way to achieve this.”
For more information about the Community Wealth Fund, or to sign your organisation up to the Alliance visit their website.