How can you recognise inclusive growth when you meet it?

Tuesday marks the moment of publication for the report of the RSA’s Inclusive Growth Commission, which is the culmination of a year’s work by the team led by Stephanie Flanders – and I was honoured to have been a member of it.

Today saw the publication of a second report, Putting Principles into Practice, which I have been particularly concerned with – and which looks around, mainly in the UK, to see what cities are doing to kickstart inclusive growth.

For reasons I have set out elsewhere, I believe that this report – and the apparently ambiguous term ‘inclusive growth’ – mark an important watershed in the development of a far more effective approach to prosperity.

But I’d be the first to admit that we are in the earliest stages. Also, for very good reasons, the report does not set out what an inclusive economy will look like – for the excellent reason that it is deliberately not being prescriptive.

Even so, I have been wondering whether it might be possible to get a whiff of an inclusive economy. When you run into one, might it be possible to recognise it as such?

The answer is not conclusive, but I would suggest you look for the following ten characteristics…

  1. Does the city try to measure the way that prosperity spreads into permanent assets for ordinary people involved in the economy?
  2. Do they deliberately bring services together in smaller cross-departmental units to make them more effective?
  3. Are they constantly experimenting with new structures, new money systems and new ways to boost the sense of enterprise across the city?
  4. Are they prioritizing the small business sector – and looking for opportunities to make sure public money circulates through them?
  5. Are they finding ways for local businesses to get involved in local education, training and apprenticeships?
  6. Are they looking for new ways of building a shared vision for the city which feeds into new ways to make things happen across sectors?
  7. Are they building a new generation of financial institutions dedicated to meeting the needs of local enterprise?
  8. Do they try to rebuild social networks around public services in a new preventative infrastructure?
  9. Are they recruiting staff in the city because they are entrepreneurial?
  10. Are they setting up their own independent enterprises to build a new local economy based on local food and energy, and tapping into increasing land and property values to support them?

Now, it is highly unlikely that any city will be doing all these. You have to start somewhere, after all – but a whiff of any one of them may lead you to conclude that there is a recognisable direction of travel.

See what you think by taking a look at the Principles into Practice report.

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