Chasing GVA on City Deals shows how far we still need to go to create a truly inclusive Welsh economy, says new report

A radical shake-up of Wales’ approach to economic development policies is needed if everyone is to benefit from greater prosperity, according to a new report published today. Instead of chasing GVA, boosting equality should be put at the centre of economic development.

23 May, 18

‘Creating an inclusive economy in Wales’ report, sets out the steps needed to create an inclusive economy where increasing equality is an integral part of the process of creating prosperity. An inclusive economy where people are given a say in economic decisions ensures that their needs are taken into account and benefits more people.

The report, a collaboration between the Wales Co-operative Centre and the Bevan Foundation, identifies four separate, but linked, dimensions of an inclusive economy, based on the drivers of economic success. These are:

  1. Diverse and resilient businesses to create wealth and provide goods and services.
  2. Decent work for everyone to generate an income to live on.
  3. Knowledge and skills so people can secure a livelihood and progress.
  4. A say in economic decisions so that people’s needs are taken into account.

The Cardiff Capital Region City Deal is one of the highlighted examples within the ‘Listen to people’ section, with just four out of their 46 places across the various committees earmarked for worker representatives and third sector organisations. This contrasts with 28 for public sector bodies and 13 for businesses or business representatives.

Victoria Winckler, Director of the Bevan Foundation and author of the report, said:

“There is growing evidence that that the most resilient places across Europe have strong networks between public, private and social sectors. Yet most economic development decisions, like the existing Welsh City Deals, are taken by public sector leaders and big businesses that are far removed from civil society and focus on more traditional economic objectives such as boosting GVA.

“For example, how do we ensure places such as the south Wales valleys and groups of people such as disabled people or black and minority ethnic communities actually benefit from growth? Our report looks at practical proposals that can help achieve an inclusive economy in Wales, its economic regions and its diverse communities. It provides a vision for what an inclusive economy might look like, and sets an agenda for action that economic actors of all kinds can adopt.”

‘Creating an inclusive economy in Wales’ report builds on the experiences and best practice of economic development bodies elsewhere in the UK to produce a bespoke blue-print for Wales. Derek Walker, Chief Executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre, has placed this policy area at the heart of the organisation’s new five year strategy, said:

“Creating an inclusive economy goes much further than getting a citizen voice around the City deal table. It is about changing the way we connect with people and do business with one another. It makes increasing equality an integral part of the process of creating prosperity. It is in effect a new economic model.

“The vote to leave the EU was a strong signal that the current economic system is not working for everyone. The Welsh Government’s recognition within its latest economic action plan of spreading opportunity and promoting well-being, is a welcome first step. However, there is a great deal more to do to ensure that commitment is translated into action.

“Both the Wales Co-operative Centre and the Bevan Foundation will be playing an active part in turning the vision of ‘prosperity of all’ into a reality. We hope that Welsh Government and its agencies, local authorities, City Deals, trade unions and many other economic actors will play their part too.”

The Bevan Foundation is Wales’ most influential think-tank, which develops solutions to Wales’ most challenging problems. Its proposals are based on robust evidence, and make a major contribution to public debate, policy and practice.

To view and download the full report, please visit http://wales.coop/forward-thinking-policy-and-research