Empowering communities to influence local decision-making: Evidence-based lessons for policy makers and practitioners

Lawrence PRATCHETT, Catherine Durose, Vivien Lowndes, Graham Smith, Gerry STOKER, Corinne Wales

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


What lessons can be drawn from real attempts to empower communities?
This question is a fundamentally simple but nonetheless elusive one to
answer. Despite its current importance to policy makers and practitioners
alike, community empowerment is not easy to achieve. We know that there
is significant variation between localities in terms of both what citizens want
and what public bodies can provide. Localities vary in terms of both the
demand for empowerment opportunities among citizens (shaped by the
socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of the locality) and in the
supply of empowerment opportunities offered to citizens by local authorities
and other agencies (shaped by both the political and organisational
characteristics of the area).
Drawing on a systematic review of published evidence, this document is able
to provide lessons on empowerment that are not speculative but are founded
on detailed analysis of where empowerment has worked. The purpose of this
short report is to draw out key lessons from that analysis for policy makers
and practitioners. The aim is to enable policy makers and practitioners to
develop workable activities for empowerment underpinned by a sound
evidence base. The full research report is available on the Communities and
Local Government website.
Building on some of the key policies outlined in the Communities in
control: real people, real power white paper, this report focuses on six key
mechanisms that will facilitate empowerment and a sense of being able to
influence and shape local decision making.
• Asset transfer
• Citizen governance
• Electronic participation
• Participatory budgeting
• Petitions
• Redress
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherDepartment for Communities and Local Government, HM Government, United Kingdom
Number of pages37
ISBN (Print)9781409814726
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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