New Directions for Local Economic RenewalWed 1st Jul 2015
Research conducted by the Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC) at Manchester Business School in collaboration with Professor Sukhdev Johal, from Queen Mary School of Business and Management, on worsening regional inequalities and the mundane foundational economy has been applied within Enfield Borough Council to develop a new approach to economic regeneration.
The old orthodox paradigm was about training and infrastructure to improve external competitiveness and attract inward investment. Our new paradigm is about Council led re-localisation so that Enfield-based firms and the labour workforce obtain more benefit from new projects; with the council persuading existing big employers, like utility companies, to provide additional benefits for the local economy. In addition council resources, including leadership and borrowing, to be used actively to drive renewal projects like housing for the homeless.
Key Benefits and impacts
From mid-2011 CRESC researchers made a series of presentations which argued that worsening local problems required radical solutions. Enfield Council officers and councillors came together in 2012 to launch the New Directions programme based on CRESC recommendations. Several of the new policies presented by CRESC in September 2011 have been acted upon for local benefit as part of a new strategy:
- CRESC persuaded Enfield to inquire about what resources utility companies and supermarkets were reinvesting in the local community whose household demand they were capturing. After conversations with an Enfield Councillor, British Gas in March 2013 signed a £10 million contract for retro fitting insulation to social housing with provisions for local benefit.
- CRESC reminded Enfield of its history of market garden food production for London, with Waltham Forest the largest glass house district in Europe until the late 1950s. In line with CRESC’s arguments, the Council now plans to build a 50 acre commercial glasshouse using waste heat from an incinerator and to train up a local labour force.
- CRESC asked why, if the Enfield local government was earning 5% or less in the City of London, the money could not be invested for similar returns in social housing, which is in chronically short supply in all the North London Boroughs. Since spring 2012, Council officers are working on releasing a portion of the Enfield Council pension fund for investment in social housing.
The main impact revolves around the British Gas’s plans to hire 100 Enfield school leavers directly to work with local further education colleges to train Enfield job seekers. Additionally, British Gas is including in its supply chain a number of specialised Enfield-based construction sector SMEs. These are local firms staffed by local residents who are undergoing the requisite energy-efficiency accreditation process giving them the skills to participate in this growth industry. This means that Enfield has attracted a major first-tier supplier that is looking to hire upwards of 50 people in insulation manufacturing operations, and 250 in installation professions. Additional impacts include:
- Agreement of a five-year schedule of works with Thames Water to help the Council support the involvement of local contractors and training for the workforce
- Plans for investing some of the Council’s pension funds into social housing stock in an adjacent borough with reciprocal investment in Enfield
- Enfield councillors and officers are now designing their own innovative policies, such as their plan to buy houses for the homeless and avoid the expense of bed and breakfast; and to do this through a special purpose company so that the tenant has no right to buy
Froud, J., Johal, S., Moran, M. and Williams, K. “Must the ex-industrial regions fail” Soundings, Winter 2012, Issue 52, pp 133-46
Bowman, A., Erturk, I., Froud, J., Johal, S., Law, J., Leaver, A., Moran, M. and Williams, K. The End of the Experiment? From Competition to the Foundational Economy (Manchester University Press, 2014)