NEW rules have come into force allowing communities to bid to take over local services they believe they can run better themselves.
The Community Right to Challenge is part of the government's "localism" drive to hand more power to local communities.
It allows voluntary and community groups, parish councils and local authority staff to express an interest in taking over the running of local authority services.
The government claims this can make services more responsive to local needs and delivering better value for money.
The Community Right to Challenge came into force on Wednesday (27 June).
A range of specialist support is being put in place to help community groups wanting to take greater control of their community through every stage of the process.
It includes advice ranging from setting up a group and developing a proposal right through to ways of delivering services on the ground.
The government claims that the most creative local authorities are already welcoming innovative ideas from communities about how local services can be reformed and improved.
Communities minister Andrew Stunell said: "The Community Right to Challenge gives communities another opportunity to be the driving force in the future of their local services.
"It makes sense, that where [communities] feel they can run services better, they should be encouraged and supported to step in and do exactly that.
Describing the new rules as "revolutionary" rights, Mr Stunnell said the government looked forward to more communities getting involved in making their local areas better places to live.
The Social Investment Business, in partnership with Locality and the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations is delivering a £11.5m support programme.
Over three years, the programme will include a dedicated advice phone line where support and information will be available.
It will also include grants to help groups to use the new right and bid to run local public services, resources, and case studies.
Locality chief executive Steve Wyler said: "We are delighted that the Community Right to Challenge is coming into force, having pushed hard to make the Localism Act a reality.
"The Community Right to Challenge will give communities the impetus to suggest and put in place new ways of delivering services - meeting the needs of residents, employing local people and creating resilient community enterprises."
Locality would support local people to run local services as the best way to deliver economic and social change, said Mr Wyler.
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