Sustainable Communities Act: Analysis of proposals submitted by councils

Gill Featherstone, Gill Bielby, Monica Hetherington, Rowena Passy

16 December 2009

The purpose of this report is to disseminate the findings from an analysis of the proposals submitted by English councils under the Sustainable Communities Act (SCA), conducted by NFER in August/September 2009, as requested by the LGA. It aims to provide a snapshot of key patterns and trends emerging from the different types of local authorities (LAs) in the nine regions and with varying political control. It is intended primarily for councillors and officers from LAs (both those who submitted proposals and those that did not), government departments, and other interested organisations.

Key Findings

  • A total of 301 proposals were submitted by 90 lead authorities, with a further ten district councils contributing to the joint submissions. This represents 28 per cent of the total authorities in England (100 out of 353 authorities).
  • The most common themes for proposals were Environmental Sustainability, Planning and Transport. The least common were Adult Social Care, Children and Young People and Health. Proposals were often relevant to a number of themes, highlighting the relationship between sustainable communities issues and the need to tackle them with this relationship in mind.
  • The suggested approaches in relation to reform could be categorized into five levers for change. Most commonly, LAs advocated devolution to the local level or more stringent legislation from central government. Relatively few submissions proposed change that was relevant only to the local area from which it originated. The vast majority of proposals would require blanket reform.
  • The local authorities engaged their communities, including voluntary and community groups, using existing and new people panels and a variety of other ways, including web-based methods, public events and focus groups. Many of the local authorities used multiple methods of consultation.
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