23 May 2011

A delegation from Northamptonshire will travel to Sweden this week to see how the Scandinavian country’s model of the Big Society works and what benefits could be replicated in our county.

Representatives from Northamptonshire County Council and The University of Northampton will travel to Stockholm on a visit which will include the office of the Swedish Prime Minister, the national parliament and a tour of the capital’s city hall.

The fact-finding mission has been financed through the European Social Fund and will also focus on a scheme which enables skilled people who are unemployed to return to work.

Cllr David Mackintosh, county council cabinet member for community services, said: “Sweden has been moving towards a more decentralised system of government for a number of years now so this is a great opportunity to see how things work over there.

“The Big Society concept strongly mirrors this system and it will be interesting to see how this could work in the UK in a practical sense.”

As well as finding out how best practice in Sweden could be applied in Northamptonshire, Cllr Mackintosh has also been asked by the UK government’s cabinet office to compile a report based on the visit.

Professor Simon Denny from the University of Northampton said: “The university and the county council are working closely together on the inSpirE Northamptonshire initiative designed to help support existing and new social enterprises throughout the county.

“The Swedish visit is an excellent opportunity to learn lessons that will both help the inSpirE scheme and inform the university's drive to be the number one higher education institution in the country for social enterprise.”