inward investment

A compelling vision

This article originally appeared in the Municipal Journal, where our Chief Executive, Sarah Longlands, writes a regular viewpoint column.

Conversations with local economic development officers this week reminded me, once again, of how difficult it is to fund the desperately needed transformation of places.

This scarcity of funding means that councils have to be pragmatic. Many are attempting to develop funding packages from the many and various national schemes and there is an ever-increasing reliance on private sector investment both from the UK and abroad. But there is a bitter irony in a government thinking that they can continue to cut funds to local government yet still expecting them to devise top notch investment propositions for private investors.
“a perpetual state of crisis”
Place-based policy in the UK continues to rely on the assumption put forward by George Osborne’s 2010 budget: that investment in public services must be dependent on their ability to generate growth. This ouroboric logic has resulted in more than a decade of grinding austerity, leaving communities, and some local councils, in a perpetual state of crisis.


    Future freeports

    18th July 2023
  • 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.


    A light in the dark

    18th November 2022
  • How do we level up the UK?

    Focus on quality jobs that work for people

    This article originally appeared in the New Statesman.

    Attracting the inward investment of big capital doesn’t always lead to better outcomes. People need well-paid, good-quality jobs in the communities where they live.

    Regardless of your views on levelling up as a political catchphrase, there’s no doubt it hints at a remedy for feelings of place abandonment that have become all too common over the past 30 years as communities across the UK have seen their jobs, identity and hope slowly sucked away.