Community Development and the ‘Austerity Decade’ (2010-19)
Local government in Scotland and across the UK was transformed in the last decade by an economic policy shaped by austerity, resulting in the biggest cuts to local authority spending seen in a generation. In this context, community development as an ‘approach to working’ in local government has found itself embroiled in new forms of work designed to reduce public expenditure. In the main, this work has centred on the outsourcing and asset transfer of public goods and services to new (and cheaper) community-based providers. This article explores how community development’s involvement with outsourcing and asset transfer has transformed the 'competencies' required of practitioners, and changed their relations on the ground with communities. The article argues that, despite the progressive rhetoric which is associated with outsourcing and asset transfer - ‘community empowerment’, ‘co-production’, ‘self-help’ and so forth - the real agenda has been shaped by austerity and managing the fiscal crisis of the state.
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