economic development

Climate emergency requires local economic restructuring

This article originally appeared in the Local Government Chronicle

The community wealth movement has four key actions that will help councils meet the challenge of climate change – ‘greening’ existing practice is insufficient.

Around 70% of all councils across the UK have now declared a climate emergency, with ambitious carbon reduction targets. While acknowledgment of the crisis is an important first step, the pressing need is to now make these declarations meaningful in terms of radical action and progressive practice.

  • Climate emergency is here. For local economies, this changes everything.

    As we head into a new decade, it is now impossible to ignore the fact that the climate emergency will be the dominant issue above all others in the 2020s.

    Whether it be Bolsonaro burning the Amazon or, closer to home, vast flooding across Yorkshire and the Peak District, events in recent months have breathed terrifying life into Greta Thunberg’s assertion that ‘we need to act as if our house is on fire, because it is.’

    Back to the future? Thoughts on the first UK2070 Commission report

    The UK2070 Commission has released its first report: fairer and stronger: rebalancing the UK economy. The first of three reports, it represents the latest in a long line of policy efforts which have sought to tackle the deep spatial inequality which has plagued the UK as far back as the Barlow Commission of 1940. Does this report – or the Commission as a whole – offer a genuine, much-needed step change?

    The starting point for UK2070 should be an acknowledgement that we live in unprecedented times: profound social, economic and democratic crises continue to unfold with a terrifying backdrop of ongoing climate emergency. Spatial imbalances are framed by this, as such  we need a fundamental redress to the UK social contract – this is not a 1979, 1997 or 2010 moment, this is more like 1945.

    Rebuilding the local economy in Britain’s Seaside Towns

    If ever there was an example that epitomises the misery imposed by market neo-liberalism, it’s the plight of Britain’s seaside towns.

    Decades of agglomeration has led to the incubation of ‘superstar cities’ such as Manchester, leaving places like Blackpool and Rhyl deprived and depleted. As CLES reported on in 2017,  the last vestiges of their seaside heritage are now enveloped by a coil of ever-tightening social and economic decline.

    Whatever happened to economic development?

    Budget day for the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) used to be one of intrigue and relative excitement. In the 2000s, the Budget was supplemented by a specific annex focused on economic development and regeneration. Indeed, the Budget was where we saw exciting new renewal initiatives announced; reviews of sub-national economic development formulated; and new duties and funding initiated.

    Inclusive growth: Making an economy work for a few more?

    The report from the RSA inclusive Growth Commission has now been launched – ‘Making our economy work for everyone’. Chaired by Stephanie Flanders, of JP Morgan Asset Management, this work sought to identify practical ways to make local economies across the UK more economically inclusive and prosperous. However, it is arguable that the ideas are limited in terms of wider social justice and economic resilience. Instead of making an economy work for everyone, it’s more likely that it will merely make our economy work for just a few more.

    For many years, economic development has been a thin gruel for social inclusion; based overly on economic growth (sometimes at all costs), trickle down and spatial agglomeration. So, it is heartening that the commission seems to have partly picked up on the ideas of CLES and others (you can read our RSA submission here). This includes the understanding (if not a truism) that investment in social institutions and people is as important as investment in economic infrastructure; or, how the spheres of the economic and the social are not separate, but linked. They also highlight the excellent practical work CLES are engaged in: Community Wealth Building and Anchor Institutions.

    What should a modern industrial strategy look like?

    Does the modern industrial strategy published this week offer the radical departure our economy requires? While the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (Cles) welcomes the first industrial strategy to be published in more than a generation, we are concerned it will do little to fundamentally alter the fortunes of the people and places that have been ravaged by each wave of industrial restructuring since the late 1970s.

  • RESEARCH

    Building a new local economy: Lessons from the United States

    8th September 2015
    This publication details the learning derived from a trip to the United States in Summer 2015 and is linked to CLES’ wider think...
  • Time for home: lessons learned from the US

    I have spent the last three weeks in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Providence exploring how those cities have responded to economic decline and indeed economic opportunity. I have been fascinated by the levels of collaboration, the role of anchor institutions, the scale of foundation resource, and the ability to raise and redistribute taxation as means of enabling that response. While I have seen lots of good work in those localities, I have also been amazed by the scale of the remaining challenge, particularly in terms of addressing inequality.