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At Barrow Cadbury Trust, we’re working to build an economy that delivers more for people and planet – so we’ve joined forces with dozens of organisations in the Future Economy Alliance to push this up the political agenda.

Today we’ve been in Parliament to launch a new report on the national policy change needed to better support our growing movement and create a stronger, fairer, greener economy. You can read all the details in our ‘Business Plan for Britain’ on the Future Economy Alliance website.

We’re calling on the next UK Government to recognise the importance of working for a purpose beyond profit and make this mission-led approach the national norm. An estimated four million of us work in social enterprise and other mission-led organisations; we’re living proof that business can be a force for good, and we need those in power to unleash our full potential.

It was heartening to see influential people taking an interest at the House of Lords this morning – including cross-party MPs, national journalists and economic think tanks – but publishing this report is just the start. We’re determined to make this a priority for the General Election and beyond.

Arvinda Gohil OBE, chair of the Future Economy Alliance, commented: “Millions of us across the UK work in mission-led organisations that show the way to a stronger, fairer, greener economy. We just need those in power to unleash the full potential of our movement, so that this way of working becomes the national norm. With government and business working in partnership, we can build an economy where all of society profits.”

Lord Victor Adebowale CBE added: “It’s exciting to see champions of change coming together from all business sectors across the UK, united in the work to fix our economy. As a mission-led entrepreneur myself, I hope this message will ring loud and clear in the halls of Westminster: Business as usual isn’t working; we need a new business plan for Britain.”

Barrow Cadbury Trust is very pleased to announce the appointment of Anna Fielding as the Learning Partner for our Economic Justice programme. Anna is a strategist, researcher and facilitator, with a specialism in economic systems change.

White person with cropped dark brown hair, wearing a black high necked top

She has 20 years’ experience of working for social, environmental and economic justice, across civil society, purpose-driven business, philanthropy and academia, and she has played an important role in the UK’s new economics sector for over a decade.

Anna has specialist training in evaluation and learning for complex systems change, which she combines with a commitment to equitable evaluation, participatory research methods, and critical pedagogy. She has designed and facilitated learning programmes for small and large non-profit organisations, social innovation initiatives and public sector partnerships, and she coaches individuals and teams to embed impact planning and assessment in their work. We are very pleased that she will be bringing all these skills to bear as we develop and deliver our economic justice work.

Can involving the public in economic policy-making help the UK tackle the cost-of-living crisis?

An innovative new project sought to answer that question by offering a group of UK citizens the opportunity to create their own fiscal policy recommendations addressing the challenges of soaring living costs.

The Citizens’ Economic Council on the Cost of Living saw 39 members of the public come together for a series of workshops over a three-week period, drawing on insight from leading economic experts to support their discussion. They worked through various policy scenarios on spending, taxation and public investment and developed principles that they felt were important for government to factor in to decision-making.

The Council’s final recommendations included:

· Crisis-response spending packages should focus on outcomes for the most vulnerable first;

· Windfall taxes are an appropriate response to windfall profits, but investment and small businesses should be protected;

· Taxation should be made fairer by rewarding work and focusing the burden more on unearned income and wealth;

· Targets for national debt/deficit reduction should not stifle state investment strategy.

The study, designed to test the potential of deliberative democracy in UK economic policy, was led by King’s College London and Ipsos.

Dr Christopher Holmes, project director, said: “Economic policy decisions taken now will affect every UK citizen for years to come. That’s why it’s important to find new ways for citizens to be properly represented in the debate.

“In our current era of populism and political polarisation, it’s urgent that we try to rebuild trust in the policy-making process. The Citizens’ Economic Council showed how we might actually do this at a national level.”

Reema Patel, project manager, said: “The democratisation of economic policy is crucial if people are to feel part of the important decisions economists make. Deliberating about issues such as the cost of living, tax, spend and investment is central to creating a more inclusive and participatory future for economics.”

Deliberative democracy seeks to strengthen democracy by embedding ordinary citizens in decision-making processes, and the research team hopes that experiments such as the Citizens’ Economic Council will become a permanent feature of the political landscape in the UK. Experiments in other countries including Ireland and France have shown that such approaches can increase trust in democracy among citizens and foster greater openness to the views of others. The project has received funding from the Friends Provident Foundation and Barrow Cadbury Trust and is overseen by an advisory board which includes Sir Robert Chote, chair of the UK Statistics Authority; Lindsay Judge, research director at the Resolution Foundation; and Geoff Tily, senior economist at the Trades Union Congress. Find out more about the project.

The Trust’s Economic Justice programme work is now focussed on Birmingham where the Trust has historic roots and where were already involved in place-based activity. The programme is being co-created with local Birmingham partners. Our intention is, over time, to create a movement of people from across Birmingham who, in different ways, wish to influence how Birmingham’s economy is structured and managed to increase economic justice.

We have recruited Huddlecraft as a facilitator of a growing action network and are in the process of recruiting a learning partner.

We are now looking to recruit a Communications Partner to work with us for the remainder of our current five-year strategic period (to end March 2027) to support participation and engagement, and share learning from the programme.

The programme is at an early stage but we have identified the need for a dedicated website and a communications strategy and plan detailing how to keep participants and others informed about and engaged with the work.

Communications Partner connection to Birmingham

We consider that an understanding of Birmingham and local connections is essential to the delivery of the brief. In addition, we want wherever possible for our programme spend to benefit Birmingham’s economy. We will therefore only consider applications from individuals or organisations based in Birmingham or the very immediate surrounds.

Application deadline: 17.00 on Monday 30 October
Shortlisting Monday 6 November
Interviews: Wednesday 15 November in Birmingham

Find out more about the Economic Justice programme and the Communications Partner role.

The Trust has recently undertaken a strategic review, with Trustees deciding that its Economic Justice work should be focussed on Birmingham, where the Trust has historic roots and where it is already undertaking place-based activity. Trustees further agreed that the programme should be co-created with local partners, and over the past year the Trust’s staff team and local Advisory Group have been developing ideas for the programme. We are currently working up several streams of work with the intention of creating a movement of people from across Birmingham who, in different ways, wish to influence how Birmingham’s economy is structured and managed to increase economic justice. The various relationships and strands that we are currently working on are illustrated in the tender.

Trustees anticipate a programme budget of approximately £500k p.a., though budgets are agreed annually so this may change. The current strategic period continues to March 2027. We wish to recruit a Learning Partner to work with us for the remainder of our current five year strategic period (to end March 2027), supporting us and our partners to learn from and help us iterate the programme as we go along, so it has maximum impact.  Find out more.

Cross-party think tank Demos has published a new report on how to secure a ‘just transition’ to net zero in the Black Country.  The report, Net Zero to Level Up, is based on over 40 local and regional stakeholder interviews and meetings, reveals that the transition could leave 20% of the Black Country manufacturing workforce (12,000 jobs) long-term unemployed by 2032.

  • Manufacturing is a traditional strength of the Black Country’s local economy, where 14% of jobs are in the industry, compared to a national average of 8%.
  • Net Zero to Level Up comes in the wake of the government’s ‘trailblazer devolution deal’ which gave the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) enhanced powers to influence the region’s economy
  • The report predicts that if the new powers are used correctly, up to 20,000 net zero jobs could be created by 2032 in the Black Country, opening up new employment opportunities for residents, and that the 12,000 manufacturing jobs could be saved
  • The report sets out recommendations for how local and regional institutions should use their powers to secure a just transition, defending existing jobs and maximising the new opportunities of net zero
  • Recommendations include targeted support for vulnerable SMEs in manufacturing, and creating pathways for local residents to get the training they need to access new net zero jobs.

Demos has urged West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Mayor Andy Street to use the new powers in the recently-announced ‘trailblazer devolution deal’ to secure a just transition to net zero in the Black Country – defending existing jobs in manufacturing and maximising new employment opportunities connected to net zero.
According to Demos’s research, a significant number of small businesses in manufacturing will face enormous challenges as a result of the transition to net zero. The think tank has sought to define a framework for achieving a just transition – one that increases opportunity while reducing deprivation – that can be replicated across the UK. The Black Country is a key geographical area for the government’s levelling up agenda, with all four local authorities identified as ‘priority 1’ for the Levelling Up Fund.

The report, Net Zero to Level Up, highlights the high number of energy-intensive businesses selling into threatened supply chains such as internal combustion engine markets, despite the transition to electric vehicles already being well under way, with 20% of UK car sales in 2022 either battery electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles. It also points to an existing business support system which fails to reach many small companies as another leading cause for concern.

Net Zero to Level Up also references age demographics, outlining that future investors are unlikely to employ a large number of older workers, even if they replace some of the jobs lost. With two thirds of the manufacturing workforce in the Black Country already over 40, they may struggle to find jobs of comparable quality if made redundant, the report warns.

Despite the risk of job losses, the report finds that a just transition is achievable: the 12,000 manufacturing jobs could be saved and up to 20,000 new jobs in industries such as housing and transport could be created, provided the necessary action is taken and that pathways are set up to enable people from disadvantaged backgrounds to access some of the new jobs.

To support a just transition in the Black Country, Net Zero to Level Up has produced a number of policy recommendations for regional institutions to implement, including the WMCA, the Black Country local authorities and the Black Country Chamber of Commerce. These include, but are not limited to:
1. Distributing government funded business support products through the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, alongside the banks, solicitors, accountancy firms and brokers that businesses have existing relationships with
2. A regional mergers and acquisitions service to facilitate purchase of firms which are too small to respond effectively to the challenge of net zero by larger firms with greater human and financial resources
3. Communication to businesses of the likely future demand for low-carbon infrastructure, including what any development of central government policy will mean for the West Midlands
4. Active co-ordination of public and private sector investment

A new report published by Business in the Community (BITC), The Prince’s Responsible Business Network, has today called on the Government to ensure that businesses are involved in all plans to level up the country. The report ‘The Business of Levelling Up’ comes as new legislation to support the levelling up agenda, the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill was announced during the Queen’s Speech in Parliament on 10 May 2022.

The report follows a call for evidence to understand how businesses, national government and local authorities can work together to transform communities. Focusing on a variety of themes, the report highlights the importance of collaboration in addressing key issues within a community including employment, skills, housing and transport.

The report makes 14 recommendations for national government, local government and businesses to work together to create local ‘partnerships’ and bring opportunities and investment to communities across the UK. The recommendations include:

  1. Businesses need to secure senior-level buy-in to effectively participate in partnerships.
  2. Levelling up funding needs to be flexible, long-term, localised and aligned with the levelling up missions to maximise the engagement of business and deliver transformative change.
  3. All partnerships need to deliver early action, understand the local issues and opportunities, develop a vision and action plan, and measure their impact.
  4. Town Deal Boards have the potential to be further utilised to deliver the levelling up missions, but central government needs to ensure they are truly business-led and give them increased revenue funding to enable them to operate as an effective place-based partnership.
  5. Businesses should utilise their knowledge and assets to benefit the partnership and the wider community.
  6. Businesses should harness their supply chain to engage more organisations in a partnership.

To help understand the role of businesses in place-based transformation, BITC consulted with organisations in the public and private sectors through a call for evidence, interviews, roundtables and visits. This report is the beginning of a series of publications aimed at supporting businesses to work collaboratively in communities.

 

On the eve of COP26, The Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) and Carbon Co-op have released a major new toolkit for councils, a community wealth building energy transition.

The toolkit shows that councils have a vital role to play in addressing the climate emergency and can generate significant benefit for communities.

The toolkit is in four parts:

  • why community wealth building?
  • getting started
  • current and emerging practice; and
  • deep dives – Oldham, Nottingham and Bolton.

The work represents a “how to” for councils wanting to deliver greener and cost-effective energy for communities.

Case studies from across the UK show the vital role that many councils and their partners are already playing in delivering energy transition projects, while tools and resources in the toolkit will help all local authorities, no matter their size or starting point, to develop solutions that work for their locality.

The toolkit shows how, by using a community wealth building approach, councils can develop new ideas for energy transition in their area, including better use of procurement, land and assets, employment and skills training.

Have a look at the toolkit.

 

According to a new joint report from CLES (the national organisation for local economies) and URBED (Urbanism Environment Design), land and property development drives the extraction of wealth from local economies across the UK. The report critically analyses the dynamics in local land development markets and explores alternative models of development that build greater community wealth and the transfer of community assets.

The report ‘Community-led development: a roadmap for asset ownership’ finds that community-led approaches to workspace, housing and high streets can support a levelling up of our places and that there is an opportunity to develop the practice of community asset transfer (CAT) to support the growth of these models. This report seeks to provide a roadmap towards a more supportive, less fragmented framework for CAT and recommends reforms to the structures of planning and finance that have facilitated the financialisaton of our property markets.

Read the report and find out more about our economic justice programme.

A recent report published by the High Pay Centre think tank ahead of the local and mayoral elections is calling on candidates to use their powers to tackle pay inequality and give workers more control over their working lives.

The High Pay Centre is an independent, non-partisan think tank focused on the causes and consequences of economic inequality, with a particular interest in top pay. It runs a programme of research, events and policy analysis involving business, trade unions, investors and civil society focused on achieving an approach to pay practices that enjoys the confidence of all stakeholders.

The think tank argues that while most policy on pay and employment rights is set by central government and national regulators, there is much that local councils and metro mayors can do to empower workers, ensure fair pay and promote responsible business.

The report makes a number of policy recommendations focused on local and regional authorities’ employment practices, strategic use of their procurement budgets and their wider local/regional economic strategies.

These include:

  •  Committing to pay a real living wage to all employees and outsourced workers. While the prospect of introducing a living wage may seem like a daunting financial challenge, 125 local government bodies authorities have already been accredited as payers of the real Living Wage by the Living Wage Foundation.
  • Developing an employment charter setting out standards that local businesses can sign up to, and embedding these standards into their procurement policies. These charters should include guarantees on paying the living wage and ensuring trade union recognition for workers at signatory companies.
  • Including workers’ representatives alongside the business voices that sit on the influential ‘Local Economic Partnership’ boards overseeing local and regional economic strategies.
  • Publishing pay bands showing how the local and regional authorities share their total spend on pay between high and low earners. While the salaries of the highest paid employees in local and regional authorities are far lower than those in similar roles in the private sector, transparency can help to assess what difference a more even distribution of spend on pay would make to low or middle earning employees.

High Pay Centre Director Luke Hildyard said:

The so-called ‘Levelling Up’ agenda is about raising the economic productivity of different regions of the country, but it should also be about power and participation.

 As well as investment in skills and infrastructure, policies promoting fairer pay and trade union rights are critical to ensuring that the workers who got the country through the lockdown keep a fairer share of the wealth they create.

There’s a lot that local and regional authorities can do in this respect, both in terms of their own employment practices, and by pushing other employers in their areas to do better.

The recommendations in this report are drawn from existing best practice – for example, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s ‘Employment Charter’ sets standards from local employers in terms of worker participation in engagement. The Sheffield City Region ‘Local Economic Partnership’ and the West Midlands Combined Authority’ have appointed trade union representatives, to ensure that worker voices are represented alongside the perspectives of business leaders

Recent research from the High Pay Centre found that the average FTSE 100 CEO makes 119 times the typical UK full-time worker. Similarly, our work with the think tank Autonomy showed how a more even pay distribution across the UK could benefit lower-paid workers – if total earnings in the UK remained the same, but with all annual pay above the threshold of £200,000 redistributed to low and middle earners, this would result in an increase in pay for over 9 million workers, with a median increase of about £1,400 or 4.5% of annual pay per worker.

Internationally, the UK is the 9th most unequal of the 40 countries that comprise membership of the OECD group of high-income economies.[1] Other than the United States of America, it is only lower-income economies such as South Africa, Turkey and Bulgaria that have a worse record on inequality than the UK amongst the OECD member states.