Published: 14th Feb 2017

In Cardiff and south Wales region, the Good City Economy plan will aim to ensure the region’s economic proposals work for all

South Wales has had its fair share of local economic plans. Most recently a city deal for the Cardiff Capital Region has been signed off, promising £1.2bn investment in the region between now and 2036.

At the end of 2016 the Growth and Competitiveness Commission set out its recommendations for how that funding should be spent.

There is much in this report to like – from plans to integrate the region’s assets and governance to a commitment to reduce poverty. But this long-term plan for the region is framed around the same economic narrative that areas have been telling for many years, focusing heavily on the creation of a vibrant city region that will attract a new population and achieve greater economic growth and productivity.

New Start, CLES and NEF visited Cardiff in 2015 as part of the first phase of Good City Economies. Our event, organised with partner the Wales Cooperative Centre, brought together key players in the region, from local authorities, Cardiff University, and the local social and business sectors.

What came through powerfully during that event was the desire for a new economic story about the south Wales region, one that prioritises the area’s social and community heritage rather than its economic growth.

Delegates called for a city deal that combines social and economic outcomes, which includes broader representation in economic decisions, and which measures success not only through the lens of GVA growth.

Since that event, the results of the EU referendum – in which Wales as a whole voted to leave the EU – has increased appetite for a new economic story, and highlighted the region’s economic disparities. For while Cardiff voted to remain, the poorer valley areas of south wales such as Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent voted clearly for change to the status quo.

A future-proofed south Wales economy

Could a new economic narrative shift the region’s prosperity in a way that mainstream plans have failed to do?

During the second phase of the Good City Economies work our partners in south Wales will work with CLES and NEF to create and tell a new story about their local economy. They will look clearly at the challenges that the region faces, from an aging population and growing levels of poverty to climate change and the impact of robots on local jobs.

They will create new ideas around how ‘success’ should be defined and try to influence the economic plans that are already in progress for the region. A series of events will invite ideas and present a different way of seeing the local economy. Research will be undertaken on people’s values in the region and a framework for a ‘good’ local economy created based on those values. Practical ideas such as the creation of greater social value through procurement and supply chains will be assessed.

  • Turn to Page 2 to read: A city deal that works for all by Derek Walker