In an exciting new initiative, Lambeth Council are handing power to residents to set budgets and decide local priorities.
Charlie and 16-year-old Gil (not their real names), who have both been drawn into crime in the past, are among a group of youngsters working with Lambeth council’s youth offending team to shape new services for people like them in the south London borough. They bring their ideas to a weekly meeting in a cafe in Brixton market – and they will be able to choose how to spend £20,000 set aside for the scheme. According to Lambeth youth offending’s substance misuse specialist Amanda Moawad, who is working with the young people, it is a groundbreaking project. “It gives young people a voice and a responsibility to think about themselves and other young people and their community,” she says.
The youth offending project is an early example of an approach that the authority claims marks the biggest change to local government in a generation. Under Lambeth’s plans to become a “co-operative council”, traditional council departments are to be swept away, as the Labour-led local authority works alongside residents to commission council services.
“We want public services that do things with people rather than do things to people. At its core, this is about shifting power to people so they have more control over their lives.” explains Lambeth council leader Steve Reed. “In doing more of what people want and less of what people don’t want we are effectively driving value for money,” he says. “We can deliver better public services by empowering citizens whether we have twice the amount of money we do or half the amount. This is not a cuts-led agenda but one we are implementing at a time of cuts.”
Nice one Lambeth!
Full article from The Guardian is here.