Community First

Community First was a programme that ran from April 2011 to March 2015 as part of the coalition government’s localism agenda – it aimed to improve community planning and organisation. Mostly this was through a £30 million Neighbourhood Matched Fund to provide small grants (£250 to £2500) for community projects.

Areas deemed to have low social capital and significant deprivation were targeted – in order to do this the fund identified the 30% most deprived LSOAs in the country using the IMD 2010. Then they cross cut this with benefit claimant data to target LSOAs with a 10% increase in claimants, in order to highlight areas that had been worst affected by recent increases in unemployment. They then narrowed selection down further to find and prioritise ward areas that contained multiple such LSOAs. Ward areas received funding based on the number of selected LSOAs they contained: a ward with 1 LSOA would get £16,955, a ward with 14 received £237,370. 

Community first is mentioned in this report on area regeneration policy by researchers from LSE’s CASE (Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion) as a government programme deliberately targeting disadvantaged areas for funding, along with the Community Organisers scheme and the continuation of two funds to support specific disadvantaged areas (the Coastal Communities Fund and Coalfields Regeneration Trust, which are not targeted with deprivation).

The way Indices data was used, being cross cut with straight benefits data, is a great example of how they can be used with other indicators to make targeting even more refined and specific.

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