You are on page 1of 6
What is Community Empowerment? Definitions Communities and Local Government (CLG): Definition 1: ‘ Community Empowerment ’

What is Community Empowerment?


Communities and Local Government (CLG):

Definition 1:

Community Empowerment’ is the giving of confidence, skills and power to communities to shape and influence what public bodies do for or with them.

(Source: An Action Plan for Community Empowerment: Building on Success published October 2007)

Definition 2:

Community Empowerment is about people and government, working together to make life better. It involves more people being able to influence decisions about their communities, and more people taking responsibility for tackling local problems, rather than expecting others to.

The idea is that government can’t solve everything by itself, and nor can the community: it’s better when we work together.

(Source: The Scarman Trust Forum Lecture by David Blunkett (former Home Secretary), December 2004)

Definition 3:

Empowerment: helping citizens and communities to acquire the confidence, skills

and power to enable them to shape and influence their local place and services, alongside providing support to national and local government agencies to develop,

promote and deliver effective engagement and empowerment opportunities.

(Source: David Rossington, Director, Local Democracy and Empowerment Directorate, Department for Communities and Local Government)

Definition 4:

Community empowerment is the process of enabling people to shape and choose the services they use on a personal basis, so that they can influence the way those services are delivered. It is often used in the same context as community engagement, which refers to the practical techniques of involving local people in local decisions and especially reaching out to those who feel distanced from public


(Source: Communities and Local Government Website, August 2008)

The Labour Party perspective on Community Empowerment

Local government has direct responsibility for the provision of many of the key services on which communities depend. Much of Labour’s work in this area over the last ten years has been to bring local government closer to people, to enable and promote participation, and to give local authorities and councillors the tools to become champions for the communities that they serve.

However, many people still feel distanced from local government. One of the key challenges is to provide the means for people to become involved and enfranchised in the discussion about local service delivery. Labour is promoting measures to involve people in local decision making, for example through new local community-level councils, or through participatory budgeting, whereby local citizens can direct the spending of their local council budgets through a process of debate, deliberation and decision-making. We want to encourage more use of deliberative democracy, for example citizens’ juries, panels and more use of local referenda.

The Conservative Party perspective on Community Empowerment

We have a clear vision of how we will turn Britain around:

  • 1. Give people more opportunity and power over their lives

  • 2. Make families stronger and society more responsible

  • 3. Make Britain safer and greener

Giving people more opportunity and power over their lives:

In our open and dynamic world peoples horizons are broader: their ambitions are greater, and they expect to be able to make more and more decisions for themselves. Government, politics and public services need to catch up.

(Source: The Conservative Party Website, August 2008)

N.B a Conservative Policy Paper on Localisation is due to be published shortly, which will expand the Conservative Policy in relation to community empowerment and devolution of services.


The Liberal Democrat perspective on Community Empowerment

At the core of liberal democracy is a belief that individuals should have the greatest possible control over their own lives. We do not believe central government knows what is best for individuals and communities; we believe individuals and communities know what is best for themselves. We want people and communities to wield real political power on their own behalf, and this means putting people in a position where they can make decisions about services that affect them. We believe that it is the duty of the Government to give people this power. With this freedom to make local decisions based on local needs and priorities, local people are most likely to get the services they need and want.

(Source: Extract from ‘The Power to be Different’ Liberal Democrats Policy Paper, published 10 th July 2007).

The Encarta English Dictionary defines Empowerment as:


  • 1. people in area: a group of people who live in the same area, or the area in which they live

a close-knit fishing community

a close-knit fishing community

  • 2. people with common background: a group of people with a common background or with shared interests within society

the financial community

the financial community

  • 3. nations with common history: a group of nations with a common history or common economic or political interests

  • the international community

  • 4. society: the public or society in general

  • a useful member of the community

  • 5. interacting plants and animals: all the plants and animals that live in the

same area and interact with one another

  • 6. online: Same as virtual community


  • 1. give authority to somebody: to give somebody power or authority (often

passive )

  • 2. make more confident or assertive: to give somebody a greater sense of

confidence or self-esteem

Wikipedia defines Empowerment as:

The process which enables one to gain power, authority and influence over others, institutions or society. Empowerment is probably the totality of the following or similar capabilities:

Having decision making power of one’s own

Having access to information and resources for taking proper decisions

Having a range of options from which you can make choices (not just yes/no,

either/or.) Ability to exercise assertiveness in collective decision making

Having positive thinking on the ability to make change

Ability to learn skills for improving one’s personal or group power

Ability to change others’ perceptions by democratic means

Involving in the growth process and changes that is never ending and self-

initiated Increasing ones positive self-image and overcoming stigma

In short, empowerment is the process that allows one to gain the knowledge, skill-sets and attitude needed to cope up with the changing world and the circumstances in which one lives.

(Source: Wikipedia website, Aug 2008)

Local People Leading (Scotland)

Local People Leading (LPL) is an alliance of community sector national and regional networks, local community groups and individuals that has come together to

campaign for a strong and independent community sector in Scotland.

They define community empowerment as: the development of strong, active communities in which local people within a geographical area are able to come together and have the capacity to do things for themselves. They can define the challenges they face and tackle them either independently or, if they choose, in partnership with others.

(Source: Summary Position Statement on Community Empowerment in Scotland, April


National Empowerment Partnership

Community empowerment means assisting people in communities to acquire the confidence, skills and power to influence their conditions both directly and through what public bodies do for or with them.



Toonspeak Young Peoples Theatre

Empowerment is ultimately driven by the individual’s belief in their capability to influence events.

(Source: Toonspeak Young Peoples Theatre website, July 2007)

World Bank

Empowerment is the process of increasing the capacity of individuals or groups to make choices and to transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes. Central to this process are actions which both build individual and collective assets, and improve the efficiency and fairness of the organizational and institutional context which govern the use of these assets.

(Source: World Bank Website, July 2008)

Department of Health, New South Wales Government, Australia Community empowerment involves individuals acting collectively to promotion/abouthp/glossary.html " id="pdf-obj-5-3" src="pdf-obj-5-3.jpg">

Department of Health, New South Wales Government, Australia

Community empowerment involves individuals acting collectively to gain greater influence and control over the determinants of health and the quality of life in their community, and is an important goal in community action for health.

(Source: Health Promotion Glossary)