Commenting on Budget 2020, Helen Goulden, CEO at The Young Foundation said: “Chancellor Sunak says that is a budget for people right across the country – that no region will be left behind and that everyone must have the same chances and opportunities in life. When it comes to ‘levelling up’, the government needs to recognise that this economic agenda is as much about tackling inequality within places, towns and cities as it is across different geographic regions. With that, the infrastructure investment strategy can’t only be made up of supporting net-zero emission transport, connectivity and plugging potholes but also recognise the reality that community is also a necessary infrastructure in need of sustained investment.

Hyper-local networks

“Whether it’s the informal support networks in a town at risk of flooding or the parks and places where groups like ParkRun meet every Saturday, or simply the huge numbers of individuals that ‘make stuff happen’ in a neighbourhood, it is ultimately this hyper-local network of thousands of spaces, people and resources that can – and will – deliver the healthy and more inclusive society that we all want.

“How much more data do we need to see on the correlation between the loss of community services and the rise of social problems? Or, how loneliness kills as many people as smoking? This isn’t about romanticising the notion of community life – rather, it’s increasingly clear that the need for a web of social infrastructure which supports and enables people to gather, support and understand each other, as much as traditional hard infrastructure, has never been more urgent. Failing to grasp this is an opportunity missed by a government that is ‘responding to the public’s desire for change.’”

Relevant research materials:

Posted on: 12 March 2020

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