Monday, 20 February 2017

EDAS CPD Events and Courses March 2017: Circular Economy, Exporting, Intro & Update to ED!

Please see at the following link our programme of events and courses for March 2017, including booking information:

These have been tailored to the work and needs of stakeholders and practitioners in economic development across sectors. Please see more information below. Our March 2017 programme consists of: 

Tuesday 7th March 2017
£200+VAT Member £275+VAT Non Member 

Tuesday 21st - Wednesday 22nd March 2017
£400 + VAT for members / £500 + VAT for non-members. 

Friday 17th March 2017
£25 + VAT EDAS Member / £50 + VAT Non-Member

Friday 31st March 2017
£50 + VAT EDAS Member / £100 + VAT Non-Member

If you wish to benefit from the substantial member discounts to our courses and events, we also invite you to become an EDAS member today.

Kind Regards, 

The EDAS Team 

Scottish Labour Market Trends Vol. 2 Published (FAI & SCER)

From the Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI) and Scottish Centre for Employment Research (SCER)

The latest FAI/SCER Labour Market Trends report summarises recent developments in the Scottish labour market.

Overall, the Scottish labour market continues to hold up relatively well despite Scotland’s economy growing much more slowly than the UK as a whole. That being said, employment has slipped back over the year and the continued rise in economic inactivity remains a source of concern.

In the report, we also discuss the uncertainty that surrounds the labour market statistics for Scotland. 

The width of confidence intervals around the headline estimates are large, making any interpretation of key trends and developments a challenge. The current best estimate of unemployment levels in Scotland of 135,000 has range of uncertainty (at the 95% level) of 22,000. If government are serious about understanding long-term labour market issues and devising appropriate policy responses then it is vital that the quality of the statistics be improved.

The two featured articles in this month’s report examine the recent rise in inactivity in Scotland with a focus upon what types of inactivity and age groups are driving the increase and the resilience of local authority areas in Scotland to recession. In this second report, we compare employment levels in Scotland’s local authorities now with where they were back when Scotland was at its peak prior to the 2008 financial crisis. We find that based on the most recent data around half of Scottish local authority areas have not made up the jobs lost over this period. 

You can now follow the Fraser on Twitter  and the new Fraser Blog.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Mark Bell: Sport Can Show How to Pick Business Winners

Scotsman - Great Britain won 15 ­medals at the 1996 ­Olympic Games in Atlanta. One was gold. Twenty years later 67 medals were won – 27 of these gold. This success is a clear validation of UK Sport’s approach to picking and nurturing winners.

However, the government remains ­reluctant to apply this strategy to the global ­economic race. If Scotland wants to meet its ­aspiration of competing internationally to create jobs and growth, we need to apply some of UK Sport’s methods. UK Sport has developed a clear understanding of how to ­identify and nurture talent.

Read article at: Scotsman

Mark Bell is an economic development expert at PA Consulting Group. Mark and PA Consulting are members of the Economic Development Association Scotland. From 2014 – 2016 Mark participated in the EDAS Innovation Sub Group, which produced key messages around supporting Scotland’s innovation eco-system:

Scottish Government Publishes Comprehensive Data on Social Tenants in Scotland

SHN - New research into social tenants and social rented housing in Scotland has confirmed the ongoing trend towards more people living in the private rented sector and a reduction in available social housing stock over the long term.

Published yesterday by the Scottish Governmentthe report covers topic areas such as stock, household characteristics, housing flows, and rents and income levels up to the end of 2015.

The publication is based on an analysis of a range of existing data sources, and includes trend data for earlier years and comparisons with other housing tenures and with other parts of the UK.

According to the statistics, there were an estimated 1.14 million people living in social rented housing in Scotland in 2015, a similar figure to the estimated 1.15 million people in the previous year.
However between 1999 and 2009, the number of people living in social rented housing dropped by 23%.

Over the period from 2001 to 2015, the total number of dwellings in Scotland has increased by 10%. The number of social rented properties has dropped by 14%, whilst the number of private rented dwellings has more than doubled (a 121% increase), and the number of owner occupier dwellings has increased by 8%.

The proportional decrease in social rented stock in Scotland was higher than the 6% drop in England and 8% drop in Wales.

There were 595,052 social rented homes in Scotland in 2015 – 317,005 owned by councils and 278,047 owned by housing associations – a very slight increase of 86 homes compared to 2014.

In the period from 2013 to 2015, 87% of adults in Scottish social rented households were born in Scotland, 5% of adults stated that they were born in England, 4% said they were born in the EU (excluding UK and Ireland), 3% said they were born in the Rest of the World (i.e. outside Europe), with the remaining 1% being born in other areas.

More than a third of adults in social rented households – 38% – were employed, 22% were retired, 13% were permanently sick or disabled, 10% were looking after the home or family and 9% were unemployed.

The average weekly rent for a social housing let was £72.99, a 2.8% increase on 2014. Housing association rents averaged £81.14 per week, 20% higher than council rents at £67.57.
Nearly three-quarters of social housing tenants – 74% – had an annual income of £20,000 or less.

Annie Mauger, CIH Scotland executive director, said: “This comprehensive set of data provides a useful overview of key trends in Scotland’s social housing sector. It confirms the ongoing trend towards more people living in the private rented sector and a reduction in available social housing stock over the long term, albeit this has stabilised in recent years. It also shows the average size of households in decline which, combined with the impact of an ageing population, will add further pressure on housing in the years ahead. The data also points to ongoing progress in meeting the Scottish Housing Quality Standard and improving the energy efficiency of our housing stock – but with more work still to do.

“Overall, these statistics reinforce the argument for a continued focus on delivering more affordable homes in Scotland as demand for housing across all tenures looks set to continue to rise.”

Social Enterprise Marketplace, 21 March 2017

The Social Enterprise Exchange Marketplace - Tuesday 21 March 2017, Edinburgh Corn Exchange. 

This new event from Social Enterprise Scotland is a busy marketplace of social enterprises from across the country - plus a unique programme of speakers. Buy and sell goods and services, network and learn - with social enterprises, charities and public and private sector guests. Perhaps you just want to find out more about social enterprise? All welcome! Information and bookings at:

Here are the highlights:

  • Tuesday 21st March 2017, Corn Exchange Edinburgh
  • The new national trade fair, networking and learning opportunity for social enterprises
  • Opening Plenary with Nicola Sturgeon, plus a raft of fantastic and unique sessions & speakers
  • Buy and sell goods and services, network and learn - with social enterprises, charities and public and private sector guests. 
  • Over 100 Exhibitors / hundreds of delegates
  • Scotland's premier Social Enterprise Event!
  • Delegate Places start at £75 + vat and Exhibition Spaces £275 + vat

For full details and to book please visit 

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Comprehensive Upgrade to ‘Understanding Scottish Places’ Data Tool Unveiled

Created by Scottish Government, Carnegie UK Trust, University of Stirling, Scotland’s Towns Partnership, and the Centre for Local Economic Strategies


A comprehensive upgrade to an innovative data tool providing in-depth information on Scotland’s towns was unveiled outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh today.

Senior representatives of the University of Stirling, Carnegie UK Trust, and Scotland’s Towns Partnership met to raise awareness of the benefits of the Understanding Scottish Places (USP) tool for all those interested in our towns. Minister for Local Government and Housing, Kevin Stewart MSP, and the Centre for Local Economic Strategies, also endorsed the launch.

Understanding Scottish Places allows users to view the social and economic profile of their town, and compare this with other towns in Scotland. Data is included for all towns in Scotland with a population of above 1,000: 479 in total. Rather than rank places as ‘better’ or ‘worse’, USP focuses on shared characteristics, and well as employing a unique ‘independent to dependent’ scale.

At today’s launch, the organisations behind USP unveiled the first comprehensive upgrade to the tool since its creation in 2015. In addition to the social, economic and demographic data previously available, users can now view information such as daily commuter flows, tourist accommodation capacity, and the amount of grant funding received by their town.
Furthermore, each town now has a unique description of its history, geography and economy. It is hoped that the new features will further enhance USP’s utility in supporting the development and regeneration of Scottish towns.

Since its introduction in 2015, USP has been used over 10,000 times by professionals, local organisations and other towns stakeholders to support their work. The tool is freely accessible to the public, and has been developed by a consortium of organisations comprising Scottish Government, Carnegie UK Trust, University of Stirling, Scotland’s Towns Partnership, and the Centre for Local Economic Strategies.

The tool has also been used in over 20 in-depth USP Your Town Audits, a comprehensive study which builds upon the USP output to give an individual town a much wider appreciation and understanding of its role, function and performance. The USP Your Town Audit has now become the standard benchmark for measuring the health of a Scottish town. 

The USP Consortium now looks forward to receiving user feedback on USP 2, and to developing a further upgrade to USP later in the year.

Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government and Housing, commented:

“The Scottish Government is committed to helping Scotland’s towns by supporting regeneration, developing sustainable economies, improving energy efficiency and tackling fuel poverty.

“We have been closely involved in the creation of this new version of Understanding Scottish Places. I’m delighted it’s now available for use by all those who work to improve Scotland’s towns.

“There is some fascinating information on this website and I would encourage both professionals and members of the public to visit to see how the tool could be used to benefit their local area. Its new features will support efforts to create flourishing places for all those who live, work in and visit our towns.”

Professor Leigh Sparks, Deputy Principal of the University of Stirling, said:

“Two years ago we launched Understanding Scottish Places, which for the first time provided consistent and comparable data across 479 towns in Scotland. This unique resource has been informing decision making and debates about towns and town centre development across the country. We are now delighted to launch a major update of the site with enhanced data and functionality. The Institute for Retail Studies at the University of Stirling has been proud to be involved in USP from its conception and is committed to maintaining its integrity and usefulness.”

Gina Wilson, Development Manager of Carnegie UK Trust said:

“Carnegie UK Trust is proud to have supported the development of this latest phase of Understanding Scottish Places. We know from the feedback received that USP is responding to a real need among all towns stakeholders for in-depth, comparative data on towns. We look forward to hearing from users about their experience of the new features in USP, which we believe will continue to support the creation of successful, inclusive places across Scotland”.

Phil Prentice, Chief Officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership said:

“Understanding Scottish Places is an evolving tool that makes the most of data to inspire better decisions.  We would now welcome suggestions from users as to what the next upgrade could contain. We would also welcome data providers and partners to support us to take this valuable data platform even further"

Neil McInroy (Chief Executive) and Matthew Jackson (Deputy Chief Executive) of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies said:

“The key to progressive local economic development is for towns to understand using evidence the extent to which they are independent or dependent on others for the provision of services or the assets available in that town. USP 2 handily helps towns to understand their levels of independence, inter-dependence or dependence and thus shape their own local economic approach accordingly; meaning that economic strategy is rooted in the town itself and not pre-conceived and orthodox approaches”.

Monday, 13 February 2017

FSB Scotland: Where Are Scotland’s Most Entrepreneurial Places?

FSB Scotland - Last year, FSB set out to uncover the most entrepreneurial places in Scotland. The results show a wide variation between rural and post-industrial communities.

We know that Canada and Estonia are more entrepreneurial according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. But we know very little about what entrepreneurship looks like within Scotland. Until now.
FSB has crunched the numbers for 479 towns and found out four things you might not know about entrepreneurship and self-employment.

1. Rural Scotland is more entrepreneurial

Ullapool (17.9%), Newtonmore (17.2%) and Tarbert (15.4%) have the highest levels of self-employment. People from these towns are two and a half times more likely to be self-employed than the average Scot.

In fact, almost of the towns in top 20 are rural and home to a thriving tourism sector.

2. Poorer areas have low self-employment

In stark contrast to Ullapool and Newtonmore where around one in five people are self-employed, people living in poorer towns or those dominated by military bases are far less likely to run their own business. This includes places like Gowkthrapple (2.7%) on the outskirts of Wishaw, Garelochhead 

(2.8%) and High Valleyfield (2.9%).

These towns, and others who make up the bottom ten, still bear the scars of Scotland’s industrial past and have higher levels of deprivation and social housing – results which chime with a recent UK Government review.

3. Self-employment thrives in healthy local economies

Why does Ullapool have higher levels of self-employment than Leuchars? Why does Port Glasgow trail Pittenweem? There’s no simple answer to these questions and FSB's interactive research has been produced to spark conversations about local entrepreneurship. 

But what we do know is that the health of the local economy is critical. Self-employment flourishes in economies with low unemployment. Pittenweem has an unemployment rate of 2.3% compared to Port Glasgow’s 6.2%.

Where there are more jobs, more people also work for themselves.

4. Self-employed people can find a better work/life balance

Self-employment is booming in Scotland and has increased by 66% since 2000. There are now more people earning a living through self-employment than work for the NHS in Scotland (161,800).

This meteoric rise has drawn attention from think tanks, governments and journalists. Headlines like “self-employed people live in poverty” are common. Unsurprisingly the National Federation of the Self-Employed and Small Businesses, FSB’s full title, takes a different line.

Although self-employment is not without its problems, we believe that those who go it alone should be championed and supported. Self-employed people are often happier and more satisfied at work; can juggle life’s challenges more easily; and are in it for the long haul.

Find out how many people work for themselves where you live.

Barry McCulloch is Senior Policy Advisor for FSB in Scotland

Source: FSB Scotland

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Fraser of Allander Institute: Scottish Economy Nowcasts for February

As usual for the start of the month, we release the results from our nowcasting model of the Scottish economy.

Since our last update, we have received data on the performance of the Scottish economy in Q3 of 2016, indicating growth of 0.2%.

These data suggest the continuation two worrying trends, firstly Scotland lagging behind growth in the rest of the UK, and secondly, Scotland underperforming relative to its own long term trend rate of growth. We commented in greater detail on these issues here.

This month, our model estimates:

  • GVA growth in 2016 Q4 of 0.38% which, at an annual rate, is 1.51% (this is down ever so slightly from our last release)
  • GVA growth in 2017 Q1 is 0.40% which, at an annual rate, is 1.59%. This is our first nowcast for 2017 Q1, and is based only on data to 2016 Q4.
We also received revised official data for Q2 2016 this month.

Initially, the official data put growth in Q2 of 2016 at 0.4%. This was a surprise, as we noted at the time. The reason being that our ‘central’ nowcast estimate suggested growth of less than 0.3%, plus we were expecting an negative impact on GDP growth from the closure of the Longannet power station- which given their one-off nature wouldn’t be captured in our model.

These revisions to Q2 GDP growth rate, now put growth much lower at 0.2%. With the one off impact of the closure of Longannet in Q2, this might not be too concerning, however it comes in a sequence of very low, or no, growth quarters for the Scottish economy.

More generally, we discussed the outlook for the Scottish economy in some detail in the last Fraser of Allander Economic Commentary, see the summary here. Suffice to say substantial challenges remain.

Key labour market indicators continue to be stronger than one might expect given the muted growth Scotland has experienced since 2015, although concern remains about rises in inactivity. However, with inflation set to increase through 2017 there are signs of worsening consumer confidence. Any weakening in household demand will pose a further challenge to a fragile Scottish economy through 2017.

Grant Allan & Stuart McIntyre 
Fraser of Allander Institute, University of Strathclyde

Monday, 6 February 2017

BBC Sunday Politics Scotland reports on Cumnock Green Town Pilot

STP (06/02/2017) – Yesterday, BBC Sunday Politics Scotland featured a pilot project which looks to turn Cumnock into the nation’s first Green Town. The report can be viewed from 52.30 on BBC I-Player here.

With the backing of a consortium of key organisations, the project would see a range of renewable energy sources being harnessed to make the town energetically self-sustainable, concomitantly creating good quality jobs in the area.

Cllr Elena Whitham of East Ayrshire Council said that hydroelectric, solar energy and mass boilers could all be part of the solution. Biomass from crops was also cited as a potential new energy source for the town. “There’s lots of Cumnocks throughout Scotland, and we need to be looking to how we can futureproof the economy in these areas,” she stated.

Local resident Bobby Grierson added that this would be a five year plan, and that “it’s important for the local community to be involved in the decision-making about the future of the community of Cumnock”. He also spoke of the success of recent community events and engagement initiatives.

Chief Officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, Phil Prentice, meanwhile explained the rationale of the project, which could help the Scottish Government to meet its ambitious carbon emissions targets.

“Close by, you’ve got very successful towns that have re-invented around a theme. If you cross down into Dumfries and Galloway you’ve got Castle Douglas, which is a similar size [to Cumnock]: it’s now the food capital of the south of Scotland”.

“Further on down you’ve got Kirkcudbright, which is Scotland’s artist capital, and then next to that, you’ve got Wigtown which is the nation’s book capital. So why can’t Cumnock come together and become Scotland’s first sustainable town?”

The report can be viewed from 52.30 on BBC I-Player here.

Holyrood Committee Publishes Report on Economic Impact of Leaving the European Union

BBC News - The Scottish government "must do more" to support local businesses exporting across the world in the wake of Brexit, Holyrood's economy committee have said.

MSPs want the government to review its strategy due to the "changing economic landscape" since the EU referendum.

The committee argues that it is "time to maximise opportunities in growing markets such as China and India".

The Scottish government said it was "working on an ambitious programme of internationalisation" and trade.

A spokeswoman described Brexit as "by far the biggest threat to Scotland's jobs, prosperity and economy".

Meanwhile Scottish Brexit minister Mike Russell has denied there would be a "bonfire of regulations" for exporting firms after the UK leaves the EU.

'Vitally important'

Holyrood's economy, jobs and fair work committee is one of several which have been taking evidence on the potential economic impact of leaving the European Union.

The committee's report on the topic calls on the Scottish government to do more to boost trade within the EU and beyond, in particular for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

It reads: "Trade promotion must be the focus of the Scottish government going forward, both within the EU and beyond.

"More needs to be done to support businesses in exporting across the world. Now is the time to maximise opportunities in growing markets such as China and India."

They said access to the single market was "vitally important" to many exporting business in sectors across Scotland, calling on the government to prioritise supporting businesses throughout the Brexit negotiations.

Members asked to see a strategy for dealing with import inflation "as a matter of urgency", and for work to "address issues of skills gaps and workforce planning" in relation to EU migrant workers.

Committee convener Gordon Lindhurst said the group was "calling on the Scottish government to redouble its efforts in encouraging and supporting businesses to export".

He said: "The need to support SMEs is more crucial than ever. The committee cannot over-state the importance of continuing to promote the growth of indigenous businesses, and it is vital that the right balance is struck between supporting foreign direct investment and home grown businesses."

"The committee is urging the Scottish government and enterprise agencies to engage with businesses based in Scotland to understand what specific support is needed from sector to sector and region to region."

'Ambitious programme'

The Scottish government has argued in Brexit talks that exporting firms are "more likely to innovate and grow faster", highlighting membership of the single market as being helpful to this.

Scotland's economy secretary Keith Brown recently welcomed an increase in international exports as "hugely encouraging".

A spokeswoman said: "The Scottish government is working on an ambitious programme of internationalisation, including measures to broaden Scotland's export base and grow exports beyond traditional markets, such as establishing a new trade board, that will take forward this important work alongside new hubs in Dublin, Brussels, London and Berlin and our planned network of trade envoys.

"The Scottish government will continue to work to mitigate and overcome the damage Brexit will cause before and after the UK government triggers Article 50.

"In everything it does, the Scottish government will continue to seek agreement in the best interests of the people of Scotland."

Meanwhile, leading Brexit campaigner and Conservative MP Michael Gove argued that the European Union had not created a good environment for businesses in the UK.

Speaking at an event sponsored by the Times newspaper in Edinburgh, he said there would be "opportunities" for Scottish businesses in sectors ranging from brewing and distilling to technology.

He said: "At the moment, the European Union not only imposes a tariff wall on outside nations, it's also the case that the European Union has not created an environment which we'd like to see in our country to encourage innovation.

"There's no European equivalent of Google, or Uber, or Amazon, all of these companies operate or started outside the EU."

He also said Brexit would remove regulatory barriers to trade, pointing out that UK businesses have to abide by EU rules even when just trading within the UK market - something he called "running with a handicap we don't need to".

No regulatory 'bonfire'

However, at the same event Scottish Brexit minister Mike Russell denied that there would be a "bonfire of regulations" for Scottish businesses, as many of them would go on selling into European markets after Brexit and would need to recognise EU regulations at the point of sale.

He argued that regulations can "enhance our lives", highlighting environmental and employment protection measures, asking for control over these to be devolved post-Brexit.

And Mr Russell highlighted freedom of movement as particularly key for Scottish business, adding that he was "happy to do more" to support SMEs.

Mr Gove also said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon would be "foolish" to call a second independence referendum in the wake of the Brexit vote.

He said: "The people of the United Kingdom, having voted to leave one union that didn't work, the people of Scotland are not going to vote to leave another union that works."

The former UK education secretary argued that rather than "agitating" for another vote on independence, the Scottish government should use the powers it has to "enhance the lives of Scottish people".

Although he would not be drawn on whether the UK government should actually block any bid for a second independence poll, he said one would be "destabilising and wrong".

Mr Russell replied that the UK government appeared to be closing off options to Scotland, but said there was "still time for a negotiated agreement".

He said the best deal would have been for the UK to remain in the single market, but noted that as "that's not going to happen" the Scottish government was now looking for a differentiated solution within the UK-wide Brexit deal.

Source: BBC News

The paper “Report on the Economic Impact of Leaving the European Union” can be read here

Devolved Employability Services Contracting to Begin in March

Scottish Government - Contracts worth up to £96 million will be put out to tender to deliver Scotland’s full programme of employment services from 2018. 

Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn confirmed that nine contract areas will deliver employment support across Scotland next year, with one of the contracts set to be reserved for a supported business. The contracting process will commence in March.

The 2018 service follows the transitional services Work First Scotland and Work Able Scotland, which will start in April 2017, in one of the first exercises of devolved powers under the 2016 Scotland Act.

Mr Hepburn announced the contract package areas during an appearance at the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee.

He said:

“People living in the Highlands have different needs to people living in the Central Belt which is why we are taking a fairer approach to employment support, that will see services more tailored to local needs and issues.

“Through our meetings with people and the organisations that use employment support services we have designed an approach which will make services fairer and simpler for people to access. There is no one-size fits all approach to helping people into work. When our programme is up and running we will be continually looking to make improvements by listening to those who use the services, and learning for 2021 and beyond.

“These contracts put us on track to ensure our programmes are person-centred and focus on skills and support needs rather than the benefits individuals receive.

"We have already secured agreement from the UK Government our Scottish employment programme will not facilitate their benefits sanctions system, as we want our services to be seen as an opportunity, and not a threat."


Scotland is viewed as one area through the UK Government’s current work programmes, and as four areas through Work Choice, its employment service for disabled people.  Across England and Wales, there will be six contract package areas for the Work and Health Programme, the successor to the 

Work Programme and  Work Choice, which is due to commence later this year.

Contract area
Local authority area
North and South Lanarkshire
Angus, Dundee City and Perth and Kinross
Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire
City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian, Scottish Borders, West Lothian, Fife
North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway
Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire
Argyll and Bute, Eilean Siar, Highland, Moray, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands
East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, Inverclyde

More information about the transitional services available at:

Friday, 3 February 2017

£160m Budget Boost for Scotland’s Councils

SHN - Scotland’s local authorities are to benefit from an additional £160 million investment to spend on local priorities over the next year as part of the Scottish budget process.

The investment, which was confirmed by the Scottish Government yesterday as part of an agreement with the Scottish Green Party to support the passage of the budget bill, includes £30m of capital.

Finance secretary Derek Mackay also confirmed that an extra £25m will be made available to Police Scotland in addition to a further £35m of funding to Scottish Enterprise.
Amendments to the budget will be made later in the process and the additional funding for local government will be included in the local government finance order.

Local Authority
Additional £130m Resource
Additional £30m Capital
Additional £160m Resource and Capital
Aberdeen City
Argyll & Bute
Dumfries & Galloway
Dundee City
East Ayrshire
East Dunbartonshire
East Lothian
East Renfrewshire
Edinburgh, City of
Eilean Siar
Glasgow City
North Ayrshire
North Lanarkshire
Perth & Kinross
Scottish Borders
South Ayrshire
South Lanarkshire
West Dunbartonshire
West Lothian

New CLES Publication: Community Wealth Building through Anchor Institutions

CLES - Places across the UK are striving to find new ways of attracting wealth, enhancing economic growth and addressing poverty. For the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), the attraction of wealth through inward investment is important; but of equal importance is understanding and harnessing existing wealth for the benefit of local economies and communities.

Anchor Institutions are central to the concept of community wealth building as a result of the scale of the jobs they provide, the scale of spend through procurement, their land and assets, and the fact that they are unlikely to leave that place. CLES are the pioneers of and are at the forefront of policy and practice around anchor institutions in the UK and Europe – this includes work in Belfast, Preston, Birmingham and ten cities across Europe.

Today, we are launching a new publication which reflects on work undertaken collaboratively in just one locality (Preston over the last three and a half years) and particularly details: what we have done; what we have achieved; what still needs to be done; and what other places can learn.
Work in Preston around anchor institutions commenced in August 2013, with a desire to respond to the economic and social challenges facing Preston through a progressive anchor institution driven approach. In this, we were wanting to understand, develop and harness the potential of anchor institutions to deliver greater benefits for the local economy and people. 

The work has led to a number of achievements:
  • It has positioned Preston as a progressive place for local economic development and addressing poverty;
  • It has cooperatively drawn together anchor institutions at a very senior level;
  • It has evidenced where procurement spend goes, its wider impact through the supply chain, and the role of wider business;
  • It has a developed a shared statement of intent;
  • It has identified gaps, areas of influenceable spend, and Preston based businesses which can potentially fill them;
  • It has changed behaviour in each of the institutions we have worked with;
  • It has encouraged the anchor institutions to engage on a longer term basis.
As well as achievements, the work in Preston has also taught us a number of lessons of what to do and what not to do when it comes to anchor institution activities. The key lessons are as follows:
  • It has to be about action and doing – it cannot be academic;
  • It has to be driven from the top of each institution – not middle management;
  • This is a long-term process – there are no quick wins, this is long term change;
  • It has to be based around real evidence and baselining – understanding existing impact is key;
  • It has to involve a range of activities – it cannot be just about procurement;
  • There needs to be continuous monitoring of impact and behaviour change.
These lessons are shaping our ongoing work in Preston and Birmingham and across Europe. CLES’ work is intrinsically linked to the emerging policy agenda around inclusive growth. Indeed, inclusion is at the heart of everything we do around anchor institutions. It needs the inclusion of the institutions themselves, of business and the social sector, and of the residents of a place. Indeed inclusion is not just about jobs leading to growth; it is about a wider array of factors. Only once these stakeholders are included and cooperative can we start to think about inclusive growth.

Matthew Jackson is Deputy Chief Executive of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES). To download the publication please click here. Contact Matthew on
Source: Centre for Local Economic Strategies