Standards, Resources and Relationships
In the first phase of Democracy Matters, people told us that new arrangements must be resourced, integrated with existing democratic decision-making structures, and take account of everyone’s needs.
Arrangements for new decision-making bodies are decided by the community so vary from place to place. The streamlined process to set them up provides enough flexibility to ensure they can work well in any geography, from remote rural communities through to innercities. Those communities which decide to go down this route determine their own level of ambition. However, all are required to adhere to a clear set of standards. These are set out in a new legal framework, and place an emphasis on democratic legitimacy, accessibility, human rights, creativity, and impact.
The creation of new decision-making bodies cannot be an end in itself. New decision-making decision-making bodies must be resourced and able to work constructively with the local community, the communities of interest that are found within every place, and local public services. A Community Charter – also set out in legislation – provides clarity on these relationships and covers the following issues:
- Funding arrangements which might include any money raised through taxation being matched by national or local government. Incentives might be created for the most deprived areas by offering more generous terms.
- A framework for calculating budgets when new decision-making bodies take on responsibility for functions.
- Support for new decision-making bodies to involve the community. This will involve a focus on strengthening human rights through an equal opportunity to participate, and will recognise the structural barriers to participation faced by some groups such as disabled people.
- An approach to community participation which also involves the use of innovative techniques such as digital platforms to extend reach, or Citizens’ Juries to deliberate where there is disagreement.
- What specialist advice public sector partners will provide to the community bodies on matters such as HR, procurement, legal or financial matters.
- Light-touch regulation, including arrangements for regulatory intervention if corruption or conflict arises.
Q11. How do you think community decision-making bodies should be resourced?
Q.12. Are these the right set of standards to provide reassurance that new community decision-making bodies will be effective and treat everyone with dignity and respect?
Q13. How could a charter be designed to best ensure a positive relationship between community decision-makers and their partners in national and local government and the wider public sector?