new municipalism

To make the change, be the change

To mark International Women’s Day 2021, CLES researcher Eleanor Radcliffe shares her thoughts on the lot of women in the time of Covid-19, representation in local government and the seeds of hope to be found in new approaches.

A lot has changed since International Women’s Day 2020, but sadly not much for the better. The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed and deepened the inequalities already present within our economy, disproportionately impacting women. Worse yet, not everyone has fared equally. The poorest, disabled, lone parents, young, and black and minority ethnic women have been particularly negatively affected. The impact for working mothers has been significant, with the realities of home working compounded by the challenges of home school and providing more unpaid care. Mothers have spent two-thirds more time on childcare than fathers, and those on the lowest incomes are nine times more at risk of losing jobs due to school closures. Our society is reversing progress on the emancipation of women and non-binary people, and to make the change we need in these areas, we need to be the change.
“the budget did little to truly tackle the systemic inequalities which affect women”
The government’s spring budget was an opportunity to begin to address the disproportionate impact on women as a result of the pandemic. However, as the Women’s Budget Group have examined in depth, the budget did little to truly tackle the systemic inequalities which affect women. These include the questions of:

An economy for all: the role of community power

Tom Lloyd Goodwin discusses the “community paradigm” and how we are seeking to challenge the ideas that underpin it in our new publication: An economy for all: the role of community power.

Inclusive economies are about growing community and democratic ownership forms within the private sector economy.
Recently, however, there has been a resurgence of ideas that see a greater role for the community in commissioning and delivering public services.  The central claim is that the state and the market are both discredited and are unable to tackle injustices and stem rising public service demand. As such, it is proposed that communities are best placed to “take control”, leading to the emergence of a new “community paradigm”. Echoing ideas reminiscent of David Cameron’s “big society”, this has been posited as a solution to the conjoined issues of less public money and growing social need.
“The ideas posited by the community paradigm have dangerous flaws.”
While it is true that we must genuinely empower citizens and communities and that they must have a decent say in how our public services are run, the ideas posited by the community paradigm have dangerous flaws.

Taking forward New Municipalism in London

Following years of austerity, wealth extraction and an economy incapable of responding to social needs, the global New Municipalist movement is taking root here in the UK.  In a new publication, New Municipalism in London, the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) introduces this new concept and, with the London Boroughs of IslingtonHackney and Camden, shows how it is being taken forward.

Like many world cities, London is both a beacon of extravagant wealth (London is the fifth wealthiest city in the world) and grinding poverty (27% of London’s citizens live in poverty).  Huge levels of speculative investment and gentrification are pricing ordinary Londoners, communities and businesses out of their own city.  Councils reeling from austerity and cuts to vital services are now contending with hollowed out local economies, denuded services and social pain.  New Municipalism is a deep intentional fightback against this status quo.  It rejects trickle down  inclusion after growth, and recognises that service transformation and ‘more for less’ system change is inadequate.