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Monetising goodwill could revitalise local economies

For many localities, the services and assets that enrich community life are being diminished. While some services are statutory responsibilities, such as maintaining roads, providing library services and collecting rubbish, other services are still wanted and no less valued by people.

While trust in government has always been low, it has plunged to new depths in recent years. We have seen distinct gaps between election promises and the governing realities. And how one service or another is funded has prompted increasing concerns about the politics behind funding decisions.

This situation does not seem to reflect the nation and the places that make it. The Brexit vote is often said to have shown a nation divided but the campaign also demonstrated the importance of properly-funded public services to all.
It appears the nation is a generous one. And this generosity won’t always be directed to the nation or through the state. There exists a strong desire to belong to a place and to contribute towards it.

A willingness to contribute more for better services

Research shows that there is a gap between what people are willing to contribute towards funding local services and what they are providing now. Together with independent think tank Localis and charitable trust Power to Change, we have explored this issue and have defined it as goodwill. With extensive public polling, Localis looked at the extent and shape of this gap, as well as how it can be monetised.

The analysis shows people are willing to contribute more to their place when they know what it is spent on. Whether this is through extra payments in tax a month, or voluntarily via a one-off levy, there is a great deal of goodwill towards services, such as police and health, or issues like helping older people to live independently and supporting the homeless.

This support is national. However goodwill looks different across the country. Residents in London and the East Midlands are the most willing to pay more. Elsewhere it is certain services and issues that seem especially important. For example, in Yorkshire and the Humber it is services for the lonely; in the North West it is refuse collection and recycling.

The nation is reaching a tipping point on austerity in local services. Localis's report, Monetising Goodwill, produced in partnership with ourselves and Power to Change, offers a solution. It asks whether people are willing to pay extra to help pay for specific issues or services. And it explores the ways in which places can be empowered to monetise this goodwill. More information about how to do this can be found in the report here.

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