The Localism Act was introduced in November 2011. The aim of the act was to devolve more decision making powers from central government back into the hands of individuals, communities and councils. There is more information in the Department for Communities plain English guide to the localism act.
The core of the Somerset communities' vision is that 'Somerset communities do more things for themselves that were previously done by Somerset County Council (SCC) or other public agencies'.
We are keen to build on the principles of the Somerset Compact and improve the relationship between the voluntary and community sector and public bodies. In April 2015 we launched a new Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Forum to help improve communications and dialogue across sectors. We hope that the information below will assist in developing new working relationships between communities and SCC by equipping you with the tools or signposting you to information that will enable you to do more yourself.
In time as communities become more self-sufficient this will not only reduce the long term financial pressure on SCC but reduce the reliance of communities on SCC.
Social Value Policy and Corporate Responsibility Statement
A new Somerset County Council Social Value Policy has been agreed by Cabinet to inform how we will embed social value in the way we commission our activities to benefit residents, communities, businesses and visitors across the county. Find out more about how we advertise contract opportunities through the Supplying the South West website. We also have a Corporate Social Responsibility Statement.
Local Choices and initiatives
We are keen to explore further opportunities for communities to become more empowered through community self-help, volunteering and local solutions. More information including details about Our Place, the Car Scheme Toolkit and the Parish Highways Information Pack is available here.
Community Asset Transfer
The Policy for Community Asset Transfer sets out the criteria, principles and process for when the Council considers the transfer of land, buildings or assets into the ownership or management of a Voluntary and/or Community Sector (VCS) organisation or social enterprise.
More information about the policy and about how to express an interest in SCC assets.
Community Right to Challenge
This allows a variety of relevant bodies the right to submit an expression of interest in taking over and running a local authority service. Further details on the right to challenge are available from Community Right to Challenge
We are proud to support volunteering and we value the contribution people make by volunteering across our services, as well as for local organisations and communities. More information about volunteering opportunities at Somerset County Council is available on our Volunteering page. The website also includes contact details for each of the volunteer centres in your areas to assist you in also finding out about volunteering opportunities in your community.
Community Funding Sources
There are various funding sources available to community groups in Somerset.
Sharing personal information (data) with Somerset County Council
Community projects (often those involved in aspects of social care) who want to share personal data with this Council, will need to ensure that this is done in a way that complies with the Data Protection Act (1998), and also with the appropriate consent of the people they hold data about. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) gives the best guidance on all aspects of sharing information legally; the ICO is a non-departmental public body which reports directly to Parliament and is sponsored by the Ministry of Justice - see https://ico.org.uk/ .
For specific queries over data protection see: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/ . The ICO also has a helpline (0303 123 1113 charged at a local rate) or 01625 545 745 if you prefer to use a national rate number.
There is a template for agencies to complete, with Somerset County Council, on the right of this page, and for further advice about local information sharing, please email the Somerset County Council Information Governance Team on: firstname.lastname@example.org
How to contact us
Customers and Communities (Post point 6 B3E)
Somerset County Council