Will devolution unleash a new local economics?

Even while the juggernaut of economic growth continues, another economic story is on the rise. It’s the story of economics from within, a local economics that works with the grain of a place and the people that live there.

New Start has chronicled the rise of an alternative local economics for many years. It has written about community economic development in the west Midlands, and Enfield’s vision of a foundational economy. It has championed the progressive procurement work creating more resilient places in Cleveland, Ohio, and in Preston, and the relocalisation efforts of places like Wadebridge and Totnes.

Now, with funding from the Friends Provident Foundation and in partnership with the New Economics Foundation (NEF), it will travel to the UK’s core cities to map and help build the story of the local economic alternative.

As devolution continues apace and city regions move towards greater control over their local economies, the project will build a body of knowledge and practice around locally-led, sustainable economic development in the UK.

In each place the two organisations will work with local partners to hold a workshop and create a coalition of parties keen to take a more coordinated approach to building greater local resilience in their city or city region.

It will draw out the stories of economic innovation and help strengthen and create links between organisations and sectors working towards similar aims.

New Start will publish a magazine and microsite from each place, telling the stories of pioneering practices and innovations, profiling local leaders and inviting bloggers and practitioners to comment and debate. A compendium will be published in summer 2016.

The first event will take place in Manchester in May 2015, where local leaders from the public, private and social sectors will meet to discuss developing a Civil Economy for the city region.

New Start and NEF will then visit Birmingham and Bristol during spring and summer 2015 and Cardiff, Newcastle and Nottingham in autumn 2015. In 2016 they will visit Glasgow, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, and Belfast.

We are looking for partners to work with and projects to visit across the UK to build an accurate picture of all those working towards a vision of resilient, people-based prosperity for the places they live in. If you’re involved in such a project in the place where you live please get in touch to tell us your story.

  • Contact Clare Goff at
  • For more information on the project visit the Friends Provident Foundation website here.


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9 years ago

It’s strange how, if you look closely, most of these initiatives are actually dependent on the bourgeois liberal economic model rather than challenging it. Get the state (at all levels) out of the way; people can do it themselves; enterprise and wealth generation; company structures, contracts and profit. Often the initiatives are really niche and often non-replicable due to particular circumstances and individuals as well. In the grand scheme of things and in applicability to the vast majority of the population so-called ‘progressive’ local economics is a shibboleth. I await the compendium and hope to be disabused.

Clare Goff
Clare Goff
9 years ago
Reply to  Sceptic

Thanks for your comment. Some of the examples mentioned are driven by the local public sector, some come from the community level, and some are led by the private sector. The project will examine examples of progressive local economics from different starting points and hopefully draw out some learnings about each.

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