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'I think you've cracked it', minister tells PlaceShapers.

The PlaceShapers Group of 55 community based housing associations has welcomed the decentralisation minister's call for help in ensuring that communities reap the full rewards of the Localism Bill.

Speaking at the group's annual conference on 11 May, The Rt. Hon Greg Clark MP spoke of the need to build social capital to deliver the Localism Bill. However one of the biggest problems, he said, was the differing level of social capital around the country.

Examining this problem he said: "Housing associations are the single best example of how this can be addressed. There is often a degree of distance, especially for vulnerable people, but people know their local housing managers. You give voice and confidence to people to articulate their views and to influence the shape of their communities. Indeed, PlaceShapers are ahead of the game - I think you have cracked it in many places across the country and we have an enormous amount to learn from you."

The Minister also confirmed that greater flexibility and accountability on how money is spent locally is one of the primary objectives of the Localism Bill and praised PlaceShapers' innovative solutions to tackling local problems. He said: "If local housing associations such as yours can make a case that things can be done differently and better then it should be possible to do that and funding should follow. I want you to be able to get on with the things you want to do."

Discussion also focused on how PlaceShapers could build stronger links with MPs. Research carried out by the group in 2008 showed that most MPs favour local housing associations and are supportive of the PlaceShapers ethos. However, they had mixed views about housing associations in general and felt that many chief executives could do more to build stronger relationships with their local MPs. The Minister stressed that since that research there had been an infusion of new MPs. He said: "Most candidates feel they have got there by fighting campaigns on local issues. I think that gulf between Whitehall and community policy is being dissolved."

Speaking later, Tony Stacey, PlaceShapers Group Chair, said: "Greg's views chime perfectly with our ethos. We are delighted that he is so positive about us and we will be working with him to explore how PlaceShapers can help develop the social capital needed to make localism work in practice. We will also build on our relationships with local MPs so that they have a better understanding of what we do in their communities.

All PlaceShapers Group members sign up to the following principles:

  1. That we put our residents and customers at the centre of what we do and ensure that they have real influence on how our organisations evolve

  2. That we provide more than simple landlord services because we care about the people and places where we work;

  3. That we recognise the importance of the local authority role and support all of our local authority partners in improving and shaping places at both a strategic and operational level; and

  4. That we believe there is strength and benefit to residents and stakeholders in maintaining a strong, independent, diverse, non-profit making sector.

For more information on the PlaceShapers Group please contact:

Tony Stacey, Chair, on 0114 290 0235 / 07720 544216 or

Please also visit our website at:

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