Big Society score.......what's yours and does it matter?

It is generally accepted that the Big Society is more likely to happen in some parts of the country than in others. Does this matter?  Well it shows that the playing field is not level, and that in some areas the task of building community engagement is going to be harder than in others. 

A report by the New Local Government Network  (NLGN) suggests that there is no strong link between a community’s wealth and its ‘Big Society’ resources, with some deprived areas comparatively rich in community wealth.  Furthermore some communities face ‘double deprivation’ – lacking both financial wealth and community resources such as volunteering – these areas are less likley to cope with the withdrawal of traditional state services.

The table below shows “Big Society readiness” in the East of England.  Not surprisingly this varies from place to place.  More striking perhaps is the fact that 25 local authorities have Big Society scores below the national average of 32.3.

Data summary for the East of England ranked by Big Society score

 

Local authority

Regular volunteering participation, %

Belonging score

Civic participation

Big society score

SOURCE: New Local Government Network

Harlow DC

18.2

48.7

9.6

25.5

Thurrock

18

52.4

10

26.8

Stevenage DC

20.6

49

11.7

27.1

Basildon DC

17.8

54.6

9.6

27.3

Norwich DC

20.5

47.1

14.6

27.4

Broxbourne DC

19.6

55.8

10.5

28.6

Luton

23.5

48

14.7

28.7

Ipswich DC

21.3

52.5

12.2

28.7

Watford DC

23.4

50.6

13.1

29.0

Welwyn Hatfield DC

25

50.4

12.3

29.2

Forest Heath DC

23.5

52.6

11.8

29.3

Peterborough

23.3

52.8

12.9

29.7

Cambridge DC

26.9

48

14.2

29.7

Southend-on-Sea

21.8

55.3

12.5

29.9

Fenland DC

21.1

58.1

10.7

30.0

Great Yarmouth DC

19.7

59.1

12.1

30.3

Castle Point DC

20.9

62.5

8.6

30.7

Rochford DC

17.5

67

7.6

30.7

Chelmsford DC

24.3

59

9.9

31.1

Central Bedfordshire

24.3

56.9

12.6

31.3

Hertsmere DC

23.4

56.8

13.7

31.3

Essex CC

25.2

58.4

11

31.5

Braintree DC

23.2

60.9

10.7

31.6

Colchester DC

23.7

59.1

12.4

31.7

Hertfordshire CC

26

56.8

13.3

32.0

Dacorum DC

28.5

57.7

11.2

32.5

Three Rivers DC

24

62

12

32.7

Kings Lynn and West Norfolk DC

23.3

60.5

14.7

32.8

Waveney DC

23.7

61.5

13.3

32.8

Brentwood DC

24.8

62.9

11

32.9

Tendring DC

22.5

64.3

11.8

32.9

Epping Forest DC

25.2

62.6

12.7

33.5

Bedford

27.5

58.6

15.9

34.0

Cambridgeshire CC

28.4

58.6

15

34.0

Norfolk CC

25.7

61.4

15.2

34.1

East Cambridgeshire DC

26.7

61.1

15.3

34.4

Maldon DC

25

64.4

13.8

34.4

Suffolk CC

27

61.5

14.7

34.4

St Edmundsbury DC

24.8

63.1

15.6

34.5

North Hertfordshire DC

30.8

56.5

16.3

34.5

Huntingdonshire DC

30.9

59.8

13.8

34.8

St Albans DC

29.4

59.9

15.5

34.9

East Hertfordshire DC

28

62.8

14.7

35.2

Broadland DC

28.5

65.9

12.4

35.6

North Norfolk DC

27.9

64.1

18.1

36.7

Breckland DC

29.3

65

17.8

37.4

Babergh DC

31

66.6

15.5

37.7

Suffolk Coastal DC

32.7

65.1

16.2

38.0

South Norfolk DC

30

68

16.4

38.1

Mid Suffolk DC

30.9

67.4

18.1

38.8

South Cambridgeshire DC

33

63.9

20.1

39.0

Uttlesford DC

32.3

67.8

17.2

39.1

 

Click here for an interactive map that illustrates the ‘Big Society score’ across England. (click and drag to move the map around, click the different layers to compare heatmap scores)

Technical details

NLGN took the average of three of the National Indicators in the Audit Commission’s Place Survey to calculate a “Big Society score”. The indicators used were:

  • Participation in regular volunteering (NI 6)
  • % of people who feel that they belong to their neighbourhood (NI 2)
  • Civic participation in the local area (NI 3)

(NB The Place Survey was abolished by the Coalition government in August 2010, so there is no way of tracking changes in this data over time) 

Let us know your views and whether you plan to use this data to inform policy development or allocate resources.

Belonging Score

It was pleasing but no surprise to see Castle Point had a Belonging Score of 62.5, highlighting our strength in local communities. We must be sure to not "exploit" this by looking more and more to communities and volunteers to take on new projects without the support of other partners and local authority. We need to encourage joint working and this should include community, local agencies, local business and local authority to be communicating and working together, in whatever capacity they are able to under the present restraints. The Big Society does not want to have a subtitle of The Big Cop-out!
anonymous 01/09/2011 12:19
Big Society

Most community groups who want to engage are already at capacity and struggle to do the work they do. Asking the same few people to take on more is difficult. Government is convinced that the community will simply step in and take over where LA services are reduced, the reality is that tey are not ready, able or willing in most cases.
anonymous 01/09/2011 09:36
Big Society Score

I think it will be very difficult for volunteers to take on 'Big Society Projects' and will effect continuity as in the long run volunteers are constained. Councils are moving to becoming enablers rather than service providers (as part of the 'Big Society' exercise). This is a cost cutting exercise, if no one comes forward externally to offer services to the Community, then the Council, in theory, won't offer them either, as they would have laid off experienced innovative staff that would have done this, then where will this leave communities, especailly those in low economic area's. These area's need more than ever support from Council's such as Play, Sport and Leisure Officers. These staff can raise aspiration and help volunteers and support the continuity of projects.
Anonymous 31/08/2011 14:39