Published: 14th Feb 2017

The Good City Economy plan for Leeds will seek to build inclusive principles into the city’s economic strategy

Of all the five cities involved in the Good City Economy project, Leeds has been the one signed up to a different way of thinking about its local economy for the longest.

Leeds Council has introduced a Stronger Economy, Compassionate City narrative and a programme around Civic Enterprise in recent years. On a city region level JRF has been working with the area to help it think about inclusive growth.

As well as this, a variety of initiatives and projects are in play across the city, bringing people together to discuss what the city’s economy needs, from the Grant Thornton’s Vibrant Economy programme to the Leeds Poverty Truth Commission.

For while Leeds is in many ways a local economic success story – with strong retail and financial services sectors – it is also one of the most unequal cities in the UK. An event and edition of New Start produced during the first phase of Good City Economies told the story of a city divided between poverty and wealth.

Making the city’s wealth spread more evenly and narrowing its divisions is key to building a more resilient city.

At an event in December 2016 our partners Leeds Council and Social Business Brokers brought together a range of people from the public, private and social sectors across the city to discuss ways in which an inclusive growth agenda can be woven into the city’s upcoming economic growth strategy, and also feel practical and tangible for those living in the city.

Focus on the foundations

Among the delegates there was a lot of interest in creating an economic strategy that focuses more heavily on the foundations of the economy such as housing, transport and care. These sectors not only boost the local economy but also show a different way of working, one that is driven not by scale and growth but by community wellbeing and greater local prosperity.

Some questions that came out of our discussions in the city included:

  • What could an inclusive prosperity approach to care, focused within one or two neighbourhoods, look like?
  • Could communities, businesses and citizens come together around a vision of co-produced housing?
  • What principles and business models are needed that give more control to people and places?

In the coming months, discussion and engagement events will seek to build consensus around a set of principles for inclusive growth in Leeds, to feed into the council’s economic strategy to be published in June 2017.

A set of metrics will be devised to measure progress against these principles. Following on from that an engagement event will encourage take-up of these principles and their application within place.

  • Turn to page 2 to read Rob Greenland’s blog on The building blocks of an inclusive local economy