UK Government

Commission for Rural Communities: Rural watchdog seeks to maximise value of economic well-being

Press Release   •   Jan 18, 2010 11:34 GMT

The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) believes that local authorities and other organisations should be making greater use of their ability to pursue policies and projects which increase the economic well-being of the communities they serve.

To encourage and help them, the CRC is today (Monday 18 January 2010) launching two reports which explain economic well-being and give guidance as to how the concept can be used. The reports are being launched at a seminar which aims to stimulate debate and highlight existing good practice. Representatives from local, regional and national government, the voluntary sector and other agencies will come together to hear about projects which have made a positive difference to people’s lives and explore how economic well-being can be better used at a local level.

Sarah McAdam Chief Executive of the Commission for Rural Communities said: "The power for local authorities to pursue economic well-being was introduced in the Local Government Act 2000. A recent government report found that use of this power was the exception rather than the rule. But there are still a significant number of local councils, particularly in rural areas, that have developed projects which address the economic well-being of their communities and we want to encourage others to learn from these examples."

"By focusing on economic well-being, local authorities can take a broad view of the contributions that people, businesses and communities make to a healthy economy and society and can take account of the social and environmental impacts of economic activities.  We believe this approach is particularly valuable in rural areas."

Good practice examples of economic well-being include:

• "Pension Extra" Benefit Take Up Campaign lead by the Citizens Advice Bureaux in Caradon, Cornwall is helping pensioners access the benefits for which they are eligible.  The project has improved the economic well-being of local pensioners by helping them maximise their income through outreach activities and delivering health and housing advice. This in turn has generated additional spend in the local economy.

• 'Out of the Rut' is a commercial venture developed from inside Rutland Council, to help vulnerable people back into the workforce by providing paid, supportive, employment in horticulture, retail and associated activities. After starting with just one modest contract, the company has gone on to secure a range of commercial deals  provided placements for 300 individuals, more than half of them subsequently placed in longer-term jobs.

ENDS

For further information contact Chris Wynne-Davies on 01242 534070

Notes for editors:

1. The reports 'Understanding economic well-being' (CRC 109) and 'Economic well-being – guidance for local authorities' (CRC 110) can be found at:
www.ruralcommunities.gov.uk/files/understandingeconomicwellbeing.pdf

www.ruralcommunities.gov.uk/files/economicwellbeingguidance.pdf

2. The Commission for Rural Communities acts as the advocate for England’s rural communities, as an expert adviser to government, and as a watchdog to ensure that government actions, policies and programmes recognise and respond effectively to rural needs, with a particular focus on disadvantage.

It has three key functions:

Rural advocate:
the voice for rural people, businesses and communities

Expert adviser:
giving evidence-based, objective advice to government and others

Independent watchdog:
monitoring, reporting on and seeking to mainstream rural into the delivery of policies nationally, regionally and locally.

www.ruralcommunities.gov.uk

Contacts

NDS Enquiries
Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department
ndsenquiries@coi.gsi.gov.uk