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Turn Up the Volume: An Economy for All

Event: How can we create an economy for all?
Venue: Kings House Conference Centre, Manchester
Date: Thursday 27th June 2013
Organisers: Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES)


How can we create an economy for all?  That was the main question for the CLES Summit 2013, comprising around 80 delegates, mostly from the public sector, third sector and research centres. The responses from the 20 or so speakers were insightful, constructive, generally optimistic and occasionally belligerent.  They explained the shape of the challenge and made numerous recommendations, illustrated with various examples. 

Throughout the day, the speakers reiterated the Chair's view that the economy serves the interests of the rich rather than the poor and that we need to embrace new ideas, new theories and new practices.  They said equality should be on the national agenda and highlighted differences between London and the rest of the country and between rich and poor neighbourhoods.  They criticised the government's fiscal policy and associated welfare reforms and called instead for more public sector spending and a better deal for local government.  And they argued for the devolution of power to local authorities so that suitable solutions can be found to local issues. 

We need to embrace new ideas, new theories and new practices

The speakers also called on local authorities and other local bodies to be pro-active; to address local issues by making the most of what they've got.  They advised them to consider the factors that make places successful, including their people, institutions, infrastructures and functional economic area.  And they provided examples of good practice, including long-term investment and planning for local jobs and local areas, partnership working with local businesses and local communities, new forms of finance and cost effective local government. 

In short, the CLES Summit 2013 made a strong case for economic and political localisation allied to a national focus on equality that prioritises interventions in and for disadvantaged areas. Indeed, I can imagine how such an approach could help to create an economy for all or, at least, to create a sense that the economy isn't simply serving the interests of the rich and powerful.  But I was left wondering whether the arguments for localisation went far enough.  We all have particular agendas, particular interests and particular perspectives on how we can create an economy for all.  The assembled speakers were no exception.  My point is: let's ask disadvantaged communities how to create an economy for all. Their voices were notably absent from the discussion.

The Programme

Chair’s Opening Remarks (Neil McInroy, Chief Executive, CLES)

Reflections on the Spending Review (Michael Ward, Chair of the Board, CLES)

The Shape of the Challenge (David Boyle, Fellow, New Economics Foundation; Alexandra Jones, Chief Executive, Centre for Cities; Lynsey Hanley, writer/journalist, author of “Estates: An Intimate History”; Henry Overman, Director, Spatial Economics Research, London School of Economics)

A Political View (Cllr Richard Kemp, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Liverpool City Council; Cllr Jim McMahon, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council)

Alternative Economic Models (Jon Morris, Chair, Localise West Midlands; Frances Northrop, Manager, Transition Town Totnes; Karel Williams, Director, Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Chance, University of Manchester)

Keynote Speech (Ann Pettifor, Director, Policy Research in Macroeconomics)

How Do We Create An Economy for All? (Ed Cox, Director, Institute for Public Policy Research North; Debbie Pippard, Head of Programmes, Barrow Cadbury Trust; Paul O’Brien, Chief Executive, Association for Public Service)

What Do We Do Now? (Richard Caulfield, Chief Executive, Voluntary Sector North West; Steven Pleasant, Chief Executive, Tameside MBC; Martin McTague, Chair of the Local Government Policy Unit, Federation of Small Businesses; Chris Murray, Director, Core Cities)

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"In The Event" is a learning log of debates and events around Greater Manchester. It forms part of the Greater Manchester Local Interaction Platform’s aspiration to raise the visibility of alternative forms of sustainable urbanism, see Turn Up the Volume.