Ministers announce new scheme to give residents more say over local budgets and planning
The Government is set to launch a new scheme that would see local people given more power to make decisions about their communities – including over planning issues and spending .
So-called Citizen Juries will be established in six towns and cities across the UK, with the aim of boosting local democracy.
Ministers hope that the scheme will replicate the successes of other citizen panels around the world.
In Ireland, a similar initiative was credited with securing a referendum over abortion rights.
And in Australia, a citizen scheme gave residents a vote over decisions about nightclubs and the disposal of nuclear waste.
Other initiatives included in the plan would see local decisions taken on a “mass participation” basis via online polls or through an app.
Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, said that the plans would build upon a “spirit of common good.”
“Civil society is the bedrock of our communities”, she said.
“It is made up of the volunteers, youth workers, charities and innovative business that work to improve lives and make better areas for all.
The scheme will also unlock £90 million from dormant bank accounts to help get vulnerable young people into work.
She added: “Our strategy builds upon this spirit of common good to help create a country that works for everyone.”
But Labour’s Shadow Minister for Civil Society Steve Reed hit out at the plans, saying they were an “empty gesture.”
“It’s taken the Government eight years to finally come up with a Civil Society strategy however this is an underwhelming rehash of previously announced funding and empty gestures”, he said.
“This re-announcement of money from dormant assets is a drop in the ocean compared to the amount the Government has cut from charities.”