Abstracts: August 2nd, 2006

This annual report from the Department for Communities and Local Government on the take-up and implementation of the well being power describes progress by councils in promoting the social, economic and environmental well being of their area.The report describes the understanding of the well being power as ‘patchy at best’ with local authority lawyers having the most comprehensive knowledge. Awareness of the power amongst partners and other stakeholders is generally low.

Take-up and implementation of the power has varied considerably. In a small number of local authorities it has been used as a power of ‘first resort’, in others as a ‘gap filler’ or a ‘reassuring device’. In many it has not been used at all. The power tends to be used in areas of discretionary activity rather than in support of mainstream services. In some cases the power is adopted in response to an impending crisis, while others adopt it in the ‘network’ context, stimulated by partnership working.

Most local authority stakeholders agree that the power is a useful tool in their community leadership role because it gives greater flexibility and capacity to act of behalf of the community. Strong community leadership is correlated with greater uptake of the power.

The well being power is widely considered to be relatively weak and containing an uncertain message. It is not given a high priority at corporate or service levels.

The report is available at: