In recent years there has been no shortage of reports about how bad austerity is and how it is affecting the poorest the most. However, while much of this is well meaning, it is short on what we need to do differently. In the new manifesto for local economies, the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (Cles) sets out ideas which breaks out of this austerity narrative and the present timidity of some proposed alternatives. For us, decent public services and fairness work with and for prosperity and against poverty and inequality. Cles draws on a range of experiences to reclaim a local economics which work for social justice.
Local enterprise partnerships are dominated by large businesses to the detriment of growth in our communities. Small businesses account for 47% of the UK’s private sector employment and around a third of turnover, but they are being left out of the loop when it comes to shaping and nurturing local economic growth.
The word ‘economy’ can be traced back to the Greek word oikonomos, – ‘one who manages a household’. However, the idea that the economy is intimate and social is often lost from modern day economic discussions. Indeed, all too often the social sphere, is seen as an assumed outcome of economic activity, rather than a planned for and locked-in necessity.
This connectedness with the social sphere should be central to any local economic development. What is the point of local economic development if it does not deliver social outcomes or address poverty? In this we need to think about building a local civil economy – an economy which is decent, fair and works for people.