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Local transformation

How do local economies become fairer, just and more sustainable? Many local economies are failing to support their communities to thrive. Strategies focussed on indiscriminate growth targets and inward investment have proved unresponsive to the needs of people on the ground.

Local authorities that work with NEF are looking for a fundamentally new approach, something that will go beyond treating the symptoms to address the causes of the problems communities face.

A one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. Each local economy needs its own transformation strategy – developed at the local level.

The New Economics Foundation has pioneered concepts and tools such as co-production, community wealth building, democratic ownership and wellbeing economics. We draw on this to work with local, regional and combined authorities to develop and deliver programmes for transforming their local economy.

Our approach

We are collaborative, and each programme is different, but we can:

  • Support community groups, the local authority and local partners to co-produce, deliver and embed a plan that transforms the local economy.
  • Produce a detailed picture of the region – from its economic strengths, weaknesses and potential future opportunities, to the particular problems, needs and desires of communities in areas of deprivation.
  • Facilitate consensus on priorities for a shared agenda, underpinned by a set of wellbeing outcomes.
  • Ensure the action plan combines, aligns and co-ordinates existing local programmes with new economy interventions.
  • Advise on the political and social infrastructure and capacity for embedding new practices, accountability to communities, policy and advocacy, and peer-learning.
  • Work through local partners to reach and engage stakeholders from local employers to civil society groups.
  • Engage a diverse range of communities, using community organising to reach, involve and inspire those not usually included in questions about the local economy.

A local transformation programme

Although each programme is designed to suit your needs, it is likely to include the following six elements: 

1. Build a community partnership to drive change.

2. Co-create a shared agenda through a democratic participatory process.

3. Support development of an action plan to drive local economic transformation. This is likely to include four key building blocks:

  • Building community wealth and ownership – with a focus on effective flows of finance and locally productive forms of business.
  • Driving Zero Carbon – to identify opportunities to accelerate the transition, create green jobs and support workers reliant on carbon intensive sectors to retrain for good, local jobs.
  • Creating good work, decent pay.
  • Reviving Places – to address the impact of deprivation and economic change on neighbourhoods, particularly on high streets.

4. Build local power and accountability.

  • Identify, build the case for devolution of economic powers to support local recovery and levelling up.
  • Ensure economic decisions are informed by the communities they will impact.

5. Unlock wider and deeper impact through policy and advocacy.

6. Sustain local change.

  • To embed a new way of working so that it becomes standard practice and in which communities influence the decisions that affect them.

How this could benefit your local economy

Through working with us, you will develop place-specific local economic strategies able to provide good jobs that support your target environmental outcomes.

Our local transformation work

Examples of our work on local transformation strategies include:

  • Support to create a strategy for green economic recovery for Hampshire County Council. The project involved identifying priority areas and working with stakeholders, through power mapping and policy labs, to develop action plans.
  • Providing policy and secretariat support to the Greater Manchester Independent Inequalities Commission.
  • An economic wellbeing development strategy for a metropolitan district council.
  • Supporting the creation of an inclusive and green economic strategy for a London borough.
  • An inequalities baseline assessment for a strategic anchor organisation to identify the challenges, opportunities and risks in relation to inclusion and equalities.
  • Working with North Tyne and Sheffield City Regions to support each authority and their communities to co-produce and deliver a plan to tackle inequality, drive up living standards, revive neighbourhoods and give people power and agency as we transition to net zero. To do this we are partnering with Co-operatives UK (CUK), the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), and the Centre for Thriving Places (CTP).

See our case studies page for examples which we will be adding shortly.  In the mean time please contact us for more information.

New Economics Foundation

NEF aims to create a new economy that works for people and within environmental limits. We are guided by three missions:

A new social settlement
To ensure people are paid well, have more time off to spend with their families, and have access to the things we all need for a decent life.

A Green New Deal
A plan for government-led investment to reduce the carbon we emit and boost nature, while creating a new generation of jobs.

The democratic economy
To devolve state power and transform ownership of the economy to give everyone an equal stake in the places where we live and work.

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