Monday 25 February 2013

Brent Executive to agree Community Right to Challenge arrangements

The Brent Executive is to discuss the borough's policy on the Community Right to Challenge at its April Meeting.

Although it sounds like a right to challenge some of the more dubious decisions of the Council it is in fact the right of specific groups to bid to run current services which came into being under the Localism Act of 2011. It can be seen as a further move to end local government as we know it, introduction of the Big Society by the back door, and an escalation of out-sourcing. However, some Brent services such as the special needs playscheme are already run by such organisations.

This is some of the information already available elsewhere:
Only relevant bodies can make an Expression of Interest in running a service. The Localism Act lists the following as relevant bodies: 
  • A voluntary or community body
  • A body of persons or a trust which is established for charitable purposes only
  • A parish council
  • Two or more employees of the relevant authority
  • Any other person or body specified by the Secretary of State by regulations. 
A voluntary body is defined here as a body that is not a public or local authority, the activities of which are not carried on for profit. It can generate a surplus provided it is used for the purposes of its activities or invested in the community.  A community body is a body which is not a public or local authority, the activities of which are primarily for the benefit of the community. The definitions of a voluntary or a community body are intended to cover a wide range of civil society organisations. They reflect the required characteristics of such bodies rather than referring to your organisational structure. This allows for flexibility to accommodate future forms of civil society organisation. The way in which groups demonstrate community benefit will vary depending on their legal form and the associated requirements. The statutory guidance gives more information.
In fact Brent is behind other local authorities in publishing details on how it will administer the scheme. An officer in response to an FOI request earlier this year said the delay was due to officer sickness.

An example of an Expression of Interest form can  be found on the Haringey Council website HERE

It is likely that in the future this, along with the Community Right to Bid, Community Asset Transfer and Community Right to Build,  may be used by campaigners seeking to save local services but sustainability, as with the library volunteer bids, is likely to be a major issue.

Further information can be found at the My Community Rights website HERE 

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