Julian Dobson, author of a refreshing new report for Respublica, drawing on significant aspects of Church Action on Poverty’s work over the past decade, argues that ‘regeneration is the action of citizens and those who work with them to recreate home for new times, especially where there is poverty or disadvantage.”
Responsible Recovery: A social contract for local growth argues that a more joined-up approach to government policy on welfare, poverty and employment is needed in order to address the needs of the poorest communities.
For that to happen, policies need to be people-centred, locally accountable and locally responsive. The report takes the ‘sustainable livelihoods’ model that has been tried and tested internationally, and applied in the UK by Church Action on Poverty and Oxfam. It views the journey out of poverty as a shift from surviving to coping, from coping to adapting to change, and from adapting to accumulating.
As Dobson argues: “By using a sustainable livelihoods approach, it is possible to identify what really matters to people, work with them to meet these priorities, and draw in appropriate support from community, public and private organisations.”
Not only that, the report makes the case for adopting participatory budgeting and other approaches to local participation as ‘common practice rather than as isolated experiments, and endorses Church Action on Poverty’s Peoples Budget campaign target of ensuring 1% of local authority spending is allocated through participatory budgeting methods.
In his introduction to the report, Dobson affirms much of what Church Action on Poverty has been advocating in regeneration policy for the better part of a decade:
“The starting point should be to understand and engage with the poeple who are most affected by poverty in the places where they live, working with them to create solutions that work in the context of their lives and strengthen the links and assets that are already important to them. This paper argues that we need to see people as the solution, not the problem.”
Read the full report here.