What is the issue?
Through the Activating Local Alternative Economies project, CLES and NEF identified a mismatch between the needs of the local economy and the mainstream economic narrative that exists and within which local councils need to focus their economic strategies. City Deals and devolution processes are focused heavily on boosting economic growth and developing and supporting high growth industries and sectors. The reality of the needs of the local economy on the ground is very different. In each city we visited we identified a gap in understanding, and a desire for support, at local government level, about how to adapt and create local economic policy to better suit the needs of their citizens and help build a more resilient local economy. We also uncovered a need for greater knowledge of the ways in which the local public sector and the local social sector can work together to build a more resilient economy, and more knowledge about how each can use current legislation to create change. More broadly, there is no common narrative – at either local or national level – about what a good economy looks like and the practical steps needed to achieve one.
What will the project try to achieve?
CLES and NEF will help our local partner networks within five core cities in the UK to action and embed ‘resilient city’ policies, and build a stronger narrative at local and national level around what a resilient local economy looks like and how, practically, it can be achieved. Up to ten days of specialist advice and support from NEF and/or CLES will support each local city network to refine and implement an action plan to embed new policies and practice. We will develop a peer learning network between the 10 core cities, and produce two connected handbooks, with a practical focus based on precedent examples: one for local government, outlining their existing powers in terms of developing more resilient local housing, energy and financial systems, and changing procurement and commissioning practices, and the second for civil society, setting out the legislation and powers and finance that already exist and how they can use them. Within the five focus cities we will also work with local media organisations to develop and strengthen the narrative around resilient economies. Throughout the programme, we will publish articles on New Start, through social media and national media outlets.
Who might be interested in this project?
City leaders, local economic development practitioners in local councils and third sector organisations, social enterprises, voluntary and community organisations, anchor institutions within towns and cities (e.g. hospitals, universities, colleges and housing organisations).