Exploring progressive frontiers in Newcastle’s local economy

This article originally appeared in Connected Voice Magazine

In Newcastle, as in many places in the UK and beyond, there is a tension. Our collective desire to celebrate the city’s opportunities, cultural richness and economic potential sits alongside a widespread recognition that many people are not able to access the wealth we have created.
“despite the value of foreign direct investment increasing […] child poverty in Newcastle has risen sharply”
Despite in the North East the value of foreign direct investment increasing from £16.2bn to £24.5bn between 2014 and 2020 (ONS, 2021 ) child poverty in Newcastle has risen sharply in the same period, from 28% to 41%, rising further to 42.4% in 2021 (North East Child Poverty Commission, 2021). These figures are now the highest in the region and 7th highest in the whole of the UK. Other measures are also heading in the wrong direction. Life expectancy in Newcastle as a whole is already lower than the national average and this is even more starkly felt in the most deprived wards, where men can expect to live 13.1 years less than those in the least deprived (8.8 years for women) (Public Health England, 2019). Byker and Walker wards, in particular, consistently appear on datasets showing the most deprived wards in the UK in terms of health patterns (Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion). This would suggest that the growth of inward investment in the city is not materialising in better outcomes for all of its people, with those of the greatest need feeling the sharp edge of the knife.

8 ways to enhance the role of housing providers

Housing providers have a significant role to play in the functioning of the economies in which they are based and in addressing social issues. They achieve this through the delivery of activities which complement and supplement public services and contribute to a variety of outcomes including around employment, and health and well-being.

Like other place based anchor institutions, housing providers also have a key lever for economic, social and environmental change at their disposal in the form of procurement. All housing organisations will purchase goods, services and works and will have a process in place to design, procure and deliver these. However, the challenge with procurement historically is that it has often been overly bureaucratic, with price the primary decision-making criteria; and little opportunity to utilise procurement to address wider issues.