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Economic Justice

How the Economic Inclusion Roadshow will help citizens influence policy

Josie Warden, Research Assistant in the Economy, Enterprise and Manufacturing team at the RSA blogs about the potential for its Economic Inclusion Roadshows to engage with those facing economic exclusion.  This blog was originally posted on the RSA website.

The Roadshow is a series of half-day workshops across the country engaging people who have a higher likelihood of facing economic exclusion in their lives. This includes people from disadvantaged areas, those in insecure employment, disabled people, young people and children, and people from black and ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds. The workshops will create space for deliberative discussion, and draw upon diverse views to shape the future of a citizens’ economy.

It might not have been the result that surprised you on the morning of 24 June so much as the realisation that, whichever side of the fence you sat on, approximately half of the country were on the other side, and you probably didn’t see it coming. The dire quality of debate which surrounded the EU referendum barely scratched the surface of complex and important perspectives, and demonstrated clearly that, as a nation, we are neither very good at listening to each other nor at appreciating how things look from another point of view.

We need to listen better.

Our politicians may be heralding the dawn of a country that works for everyone, but they certainly aren’t hearing from everyone as they set about making it. Now is indeed a time to do things differently and, as the RSA’s Inclusive Growth Commission points out, doing things differently is about being inclusive. It cannot be only about hearing those who shout loudest.

Deliberative processes are about listening to others in order to be heard and understood yourself in turn. Inclusion, plurality of perspective and empathy are core to good deliberative processes, and good outcomes for the communities involved.

For the Citizens’ Economic Council we recognise that this means listening to the way our economy is experienced by different people within our communities, and by different communities within our country. Facilitating this wider dialogue is therefore built into the very design of our Citizens’ Economic Council programme itself. The programme’s core strands of council deliberations, outreach ‘Inclusion Roadshow’ workshops, open submissions for policy and online economics toolkit are have been created to enable a wide range of the public to get involved in the programme and help shape its outcomes.

About the Inclusion Roadshow

The Citizens’ Economic Council itself will be made up of a diverse sample of the population selected to reflect the diversity of the UK. But with 50-60 people on the Council and a population of over 76 million we are aware that there are important perspectives that we need to bring before the Council itself, and to engage with across the country.

To address this we are running a number of workshops across the UK to bring different voices to the debate, particularly those of people who may find it harder to be involved in the council because of its structure, the time commitment involved, or are from harder to reach groups.

We’re taking two different approaches to these workshops:

Place based experiences

The RSA’s City Growth Commission and now the follow on Inclusive Growth Commission demonstrates how important it is that all areas of the country are involved in, and benefit from, economic development.

Brexit highlighted just how different our experiences of the economy are depending on where in the country we live. Whilst the council itself will draw people from across the country, we wanted to find out more about the experiences of living in areas facing particular economic challenges:

  • Starting in Port Talbot, Wales, we’ll be deliberating with residents and exploring their experiences of the local and national economy, particularly in light of the impact of deindustrialisation.
  • We’ll also be running similar workshops in Clacton-on-Sea, one of England’s most deprived seaside coastal areas, in inner city Birmingham, as well as in Glasgow, Scotland as part of this work.

Personal experiences

We recognise that many of us have privileges and power in our day-to-day lives that we often take for granted – and which other groups and individuals do not have. Very often, who we are and how we identify affects how we experience the economy.

We’re working closely with organisations who represent people all over the country in order to hear about a wide range of individuals’ experiences:

  • In Oldham we’ll be hearing from Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women about their experiences of the economy in everyday life. This workshop will be run in partnership with inclusive innovation organisation Doing Social and local organisation Coppice Neighbourhood Group who work closely with the community and who will support with translation.
  • We’re engaging with Unison’s care workers panel to hear about their experience of low-paid and insecure work, and to understand more about the way our economy currently values care work.
  • GCSE and A-level students from London will have the opportunity to share their ideas about the future of the city’s economy with Fiona Twycross, Chair of the London Assembly’s Economy Committee. We’re being supported by The Access Project and UK Youth to convene GCSE and A-level students, from schools with higher than average percentage of students on free school meals for this event.
  • We’ll be introducing the Citizens’ Economic Council to Year 8 students at RSA Academy in Tipton, and finding out how they understand and feel the effects of the economy.
  • To explore disabled people’s day to day experiences of the economy we will be working with Disability Action in Islington and FRSA Tamsin Curno to hold a forum theatre workshop. This is part of a wider programme they are running using forum theatre as a way to understand and challenge the experiences of being disabled in the UK today.

Next Steps

The experiences and stories gathered from each workshop will help to inform and shape the deliberations of the Citizens’ Economic Council; and participants on the Economic Inclusion Roadshow will be offered the opportunity to participate in the Citizens’ Economic Council itself.

The Citizens’ Economic Council is setting out to increase the ability of all citizens to influence policy debate. However, there is already an imbalance of opportunity and disadvantage that many people face in being able to have their say about the economy – whether that’s because of who they are, where they live, or the socio-economic exclusions they face, so in the pursuit of this aim it is vital that we hear these different perspectives. We look forward to engaging beyond those voices that are often the loudest; to use deliberation as a means for everyone to engage in shaping the future of our economy.

Follow the Citizens’ Economic Council and get involved in the conversation on Twitter @citizenseconomy

Find out more about the Citizens’ Economic Council