New Start and NEF to map the local economic alternative across the UK

New Start, the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), and the New Economics Foundation (NEF) have been awarded funding from the Friends Provident Foundation to map the local economic alternative in the UK.

The two organisations will visit 11 cities and regions between April 2015 and June 2016. In each place they will create an edition of New Start focused on the people and projects building a new approach to economic regeneration.

A workshop event in each city and region will unite organisations interested in forming ‘local resilience coalitions’ to take a more coordinated approach to economic change.

As city regions move towards greater control over their economies, the project will build a practical body of knowledge about locally led, sustainable economic development in the UK, and act as a catalyst for further local action.

New Start – which is owned by CLES – and NEF will create a magazine and microsite from each city, sharing the stories of practice and innovation and profiling local leaders.

A compendium will be created in summer 2016 which will offer a comprehensive narrative about an emerging new local economics and make recommendations for local and national policymaking.

Clare Goff, editor of New Start magazine, said: ‘This is an opportunity for us to build a narrative about an alternative approach to local economics. Mainstream economic development – with its focus on GDP growth and inward investment – is not working for many places and people. As cities move towards greater powers, the time is ripe for them to map out ways in which they can take greater control of their economic story.’

Rachel Laurence, local economies coordinator at the New Economics Foundation, said: ‘There is a huge body of expertise and experience of successful, truly locally led community-focused economic development flourishing in cities across the UK. With increasing interest in the role that cities and regions can play in local economic development, this programme provides a fantastic opportunity to distill and share this experience and strengthen the collaborative networks within and between cities.’

The first event will take place in Manchester on Thursday 14 May, where local leaders from the public, private and social sectors will meet to discuss developing a civil economy in the city. The Manchester edition of New Start will be published at the end of May 2015.

New Start and NEF will visit Birmingham and Bristol during spring/summer 2015 and Cardiff, Newcastle and Nottingham in Autumn 2015. In 2016 they will visit Glasgow, Leeds and Sheffield and Liverpool and Belfast.

Andrew Thompson, grants manager at the Friends Provident Foundation said: ‘We are pleased to fund this project as part of our Local Economic Resilience strand. It follows on from another recent project led by the New Weather Institute – and also funded by Friends Provident Foundation – which set out the case for a new economic regeneration. The work by New Start and NEF will create a body of practical knowledge from the UK to back up the case for change.’

Neil McInroy, chief executive of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies, said: ‘An economy must be the means to a better social and environmental end and we know that across the UK a range of alternative local economic activity is seeking this end. This work is an opportunity to explore and understand the scale of this activity and to accelerate it where we can.’