Business and Inclusive Growth
The role of business in supporting the delivery of inclusive growth was the focus for the second meeting of the Regional Inclusive Growth Research Network Event (RIGRN).
The meeting brought together academics from across Scotland including: Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian, Edinburgh and Stirling University. The guest speakers were Ziga Zarnic, Inclusive Growth Advisor to the OECD and Mark Hepworth from The Good Economy.
Chair Des McNulty, Policy Scotland, provided an outline of the Scottish Government’s IG priorities from Scotland’s Economic Strategy. His presentation introduced the idea that an important step towards delivering more IG is the involvement of businesses and entrepreneurs in the implementation processes. By encouraging collaboration across different levels of government and between public agencies and businesses, it is thought key to achieving more IG at a local and regional level. At the regional level there is a greater knowledge of the needs of local communities and disadvantaged groups, as well as closer links to local business. As a result, regions are thought to be an appropriate level to focus place-based approaches to IG. However, creating cohesion between different governing levels and with the business community remains a challenge, including a lack of realism about what can be achieved and the degree of devolved power required from central to the city region level, in order to support change.
Ziga Zarnic, Inclusive Growth Advisor to the OECD, followed with a presentation on the role of businesses in enacting IG strategies. Overall, he highlighted that income inequality is already high and is continuing to rise. It is thus important this is a key issue that IG strategies must address. It is however important to recognise it is impossible to talk about IG without discussion of housing and land use policies. There is high labour market insecurity and as the gig economy expands, policies must work to protect these new kinds of workers. The inequalities seen in society and within the labour force are detrimental to growth, social mobility, and negatively impact both the well-being of workers and the success of the overall economy. Inequality is a problem for everyone and one that everyone should want to address. Businesses are already concerned about income inequality and the stagnation of middle class incomes because it has created a loss of buying power and unmotivated employees, among other concerns. Through this understanding and with a focus on IG as a positive shift in policy that both governing bodies and businesses can collaborate on, businesses can be made to care about societal inequalities.
Mark Hepworth from the Good Economy followed with a presentation on ‘business-led inclusive job growth strategies in the south of Scotland’. Mark suggested that the business sector can support inclusive job growth creation, although emphasising that IG is ultimately the responsibility of government to policy change. He agreed that the regional level is best equipped to enact positive change, and that a clearer definition of inclusive growth is necessary for measuring the success of policies. Mark also echoed previous arguments that all areas of policy are important for creating inclusive growth. For example, transport reform is particularly important in including typically excluded and disconnected groups of people.
For more information, see these resources on the SCRIG website –
• The Good Economy – Business-led Inclusive Growth in the South of Scotland
• Blog by Mark Hepworth (scroll to 2/7/2019)
Finally, Dr Linda Christie from Policy Scotland closed the meeting by providing a summary of the evolving IG research and recent findings.
For more details of the discussions at this meeting, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
The final meeting of the Regional Inclusive Growth Research Network will take place later in the year and will be supplemented with a report to bring together a summary of the outcome of discussions from all three meetings.
Kevin Rush, Director of Regional Economic Growth, Glasgow City Region City Deal outlines progress being made and how the City Deal is stimulating further growth and investment.
Glasgow City Region is one of the largest in the UK, with a population of 1.8 million. Our economy generates over £40 billion per annum, 42% of our residents are educated to degree level and unemployment is at its lowest since records began. Having learned the lessons from previous recessions, we have developed a broad based, resilient economy which has continued to grow through challenging macroeconomic times. Our economic performance has been remarkable.
Yet that growth hasn’t been shared by all of our citizens. The £1 billion City Deal, funded by the UK and Scottish Governments, has given us the opportunity to further growth and share this prosperity with everyone in the wider region.
Our City Deal continues to make significant progress and to provide a genuine boost to the Region’s economy. Thousands of jobs are being created through employment schemes and construction work underway. Local companies are benefitting from contract opportunities and new business support initiatives. Infrastructure projects focused on improving connectivity and land remediation are already drawing further funding and investment into the region.
We talk about the City Deal levering in over £3 billion of private sector investment over 20 years. Already we are seeing this happen, with new housing, retail and industrial developments arising from the City Deal funded improvements to transport connections and land remediation. And recent high profile announcements such as Barclays are demonstrating a real confidence in the City Region – the most significant inward investment ever made in Glasgow, with a new build campus set to bring 2,500 new jobs and breathe life into an area south of the river.
We are delivering projects at pace. Of our 27 projects, seven have been completed already, with substantial progress made on projects already underway. Residents are seeing this City Deal investment on the ground, with new roads, bridges, remediation and public realm works visibly transforming our social and physical landscape, unlocking vacant sites in key locations and opening up opportunities for new housing, retail and commercial development.
The year ahead will be hugely exciting. Our newly established Regional Partnership brings together national agencies, the governments and the private, academic and third sectors. Together we can drive forward an economy fit for the future and explore every opportunity to maximise benefits and life opportunities for our residents and transform the powerhouse of the Scottish economy. A number of iconic City Deal projects will move forward including the first road opening bridge over the Clyde and a new berthing facility and visitor centre at Greenock which will boost tourism, helping to support a target of over 150,000 passengers passing through Greenock’s new Ocean Terminal yearly, delivering £26 million in annual visitor spend to the economy. Work will begin on Renfrewshire’s Glasgow Airport Investment Area project – delivering the infrastructure and environmental improvements underpinning the development of a 150-acre investment area. The investment area will be at the centre of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS), home to two new, national innovation centres – the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) and the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC).
At Sighthill in Glasgow, City Deal investment will help to re-connect an area equivalent in size to 60 football pitches to the near-by city centre and open up the North of the city for growth. Extensive remediation will enable hundreds of new homes to be completed. And work will start soon on an iconic pedestrian and cyclist bridge over the M8 motorway, bridging physical barriers between people and place.
Our success to date has been significant and while no doubt there will be challenges ahead, we are confident we will continue to do even better.
The Scottish Government wants businesses to play a central role in delivering its inclusive growth policies at the national, regional and local levels. It recognises that engaging constructively with businesses is contingent on a deep understanding of the links between business practice and inclusive growth policy. The OECD has highlighted the need for building this understanding so that inclusive growth becomes a common agenda which unites businesses, governments and communities (OECD, B4IG platform).
This blog reflects on a new study – Business-led Inclusive Growth in the South of Scotland – which provides evidence and direction for the Scottish Government and the new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency (SOSA). The study was carried out by The Good Economy in partnership with the Ethical Finance Hub. Its core empirical research is an interview survey of 68 SMEs in October/November 2019.
The study’s contribution to Scotland’s and SOSA’s inclusive growth strategy extends to four areas that are relevant to business:
- Inclusive job growth: good job creation across Scotland is a necessary but not sufficient condition for inclusive growth, which also requires redistributive social, regulatory and fiscal policies. Inclusive job growth can be business-led, but inclusive growth can’t. (Good jobs provide for a decent standard of living, security and personal fulfilment.)
- SMEs: generate 55% of Scotland’s private sector jobs, this figure rising to over 70% in the South of Scotland. SMEs are the dominant employers in every Scottish local economy, making them ‘natural partners’ in place-based inclusive growth as a nationwide policy.
- Impact Investing: a global financial market trend that should be grounded and harnessed to support local inclusive growth, and linked to the Scottish Government’s roll out of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We interviewed leading players in Scotland’s financial community to explore the prospect of place-based impact investment in the South of Scotland.
- Business Metrics: extending the Local and Regional Inclusive Growth Diagnostic tool that underpins Scotland’s strategy. We propose a layered set of metrics: The Good Economy’s place/sector metrics for national policy; this study’s SME Questionnaire Survey metrics for business practice; and, Service Provider metrics for delivery. This ‘metric system’ for business-led inclusive growth should be aligned by policy, practice and delivery.
Inclusive growth is a slippery concept. A majority of SME directors and senior managers could generally relate inclusive growth to their business operations, but a minority were aware of the Scottish Government’s inclusive growth policies per se. Talking with businesses directly and working on the ground in real places are both essential to constructive inclusive growth policy-making. This is the key message of our study – the need to reach out to businesses.
We interviewed a range of SMEs from individual entrepreneurs to the local subsidiaries of global companies. The survey included machinery and knitwear manufacturers, gin distilleries and diversified farms, software specialists and accountants, town centre shops and bistros and out-of-town sports facilities. These structured ‘conversations’ yielded a vision of business-led inclusive growth and a coherent set of strategic priorities for the South of Scotland Economic Partnership (SOSEP). The Good Economy’s own conceptualisation of business-led inclusive job growth was substantiated by the SME interviews: A backbone of SMEs characterised by high business dynamism in terms of sustainable growth, good job creation and social impact, thriving on an economic landscape rich in finance, skills, infrastructure and accessible market opportunities. (The Good Economy position paper)
The SMEs interviewed here are a positive force for business-led inclusive job growth in Scotland. 70% were growing and creating ‘good jobs’; 60% were paying the Real Living Wage, 7% planned to. Although 5% were formal signatories of The Scottish Business Pledge, more than 50% reported meeting the Pledge’s decent work and progressive workforce development criteria. Some businesses were interested in the Pledge as a development tool. The Pledge should be a vehicle for Scottish Enterprise’s new strategy of backing businesses by their ‘good jobs’ impact and places by their ‘good job’ need.
The Region needs a broad front of business-led inclusive job growth. There is a stark contrast between the strong performance of the 68 SMEs and the weak performance of the Region as a whole. The Good Economy’s place-based metrics for mapping and measuring business-led inclusive job growth showed the Region lagging behind the Scottish average locally and regionally. Notably for the Scottish Government national priority, 2 in 3 local authorities and 7 in 9 regional economic partnerships are behind the national average. The social need for business-led inclusive job growth is nationwide.
SOSA’s challenge is to ‘widen the circle’ of business-led inclusive job growth. SMEs identified two shared priorities for local businesses. The first is an integrated, multi-modal sustainable regional transport system. Inclusive growth and connectivity are inextricably intertwined, especially in rural areas like the South of Scotland. The second is an integrated strategy for attracting and retaining talent. The Region should concentrate on attracting graduates and skilled people with young families by developing high-quality housing and first-class education, vibrant ‘smart town’ centres and excellent outdoor leisure and recreation, and infrastructure for SME growth in creative, technology and ‘green economy’ industries. Tourism would also be boosted if these two priorities were met. All of this calls for place-based investment, inclusive regeneration partnerships, and local authority leadership.
There are intangible ways of ‘widening the circle’. It could be done ‘at a stroke’ by relaxing the growth and sector eligibility criteria used to allocate Scottish Enterprise and Business Gateway finance and know-how. 90% of local SMEs don’t use these public ‘gateways’. Halve this rate of uptake and the Region would leap forward on business-led inclusive job growth. Inclusive growth, as a new paradigm, means that every business and every place is included. It also means interconnecting businesses and places, rather than seeing them as ‘islands’ – ‘network externalities’ are a source of business-led inclusive job growth. ‘Communities of businesses’ should be the building blocks of place-based inclusive job growth throughout the Region.
We hope that our study has a seminal influence on inclusive growth policy-making aimed at businesses, and SMEs in particular. Scotland is an excellent context for innovative research and policy. We are delighted to be working with SOSEP on developing a vision and inclusive growth strategy for the South of Scotland – with the new Enterprise Agency around the corner it is an exciting place to be.
Richard Holt, Oxford Economics
With Regional Economic Partnerships across Scotland, Scottish Futures Trust recently commissioned Oxford Economics to examine the extent to which regional economic arrangements are used alongside local and national interventions to deliver inclusive growth. Our conclusion from the several case studies that we undertook is that there is no “off-the-shelf” inclusive growth model anywhere that can be simply applied to Scotland. Nevertheless, we think there are lessons to be learnt.
Among the regions we considered, the San Francisco Bay Area is surely the most successful regional economy in the world in terms of wealth creation. But it is poor at transport infrastructure, partly because an absence of regional governance means that local special interests are able to block transport improvement – and also housing – developments. The consequence is an economy that grows rapidly, but with big problems of transport and housing related social exclusion, despite a highly engaged political culture.
Solent in southern England provides a very different example where a regional economic partnership, the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, is very well established, but struggles in the face of limited resources and a high degree of central government control. Its ability to meet the region’s particular needs is consequently constrained. This impacts on Solent’s overall growth rate, and also on the ability to reduce inequalities between the different local areas within the region.
In Denmark the situation is very different. The concept of inclusive growth is deeply embedded. Denmark is divided into five regions, but the differences between then in economic and social conditions are not great. In part, this reflects the country’s strong commitment to using infrastructure to (literally) unite the nation, and is a deeply rooted part of a national “business model” that tends to reduce inequalities. Denmark has regional councils that bring together local authorities to address economic issues jointly, an arrangement helped by high degrees of consensus within the nation.
Our work also looked at the academic concept of a ‘Functional’ economic region, to see if that provides guidance. The reality is that local and regional economies are far more complex, overlapping, and ever-changing than the academic idea allow for. Our conclusion is therefore, that a degree of pragmatism in selecting regional partners is justified. That seems to accord with the way in which the process is proceeding in Scotland.
Professor Stephen Sinclair, Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit
Inclusive growth is at the top of not only the Scottish Government’s agenda, but that of countries across the developed world. This interest is relatively new and welcome. Recent Economic orthodoxy is summarized by Robert Lucas, the 2004 Nobel Prize winner, who declared that ‘Of the tendencies that are harmful to sound economics, the most seductive, and… the most poisonous, is to focus on questions of distribution’. From this perspective, economic growth is the solution to poverty. However, after 30 years of widening inequality across much of the developed world it is clear that increased productivity and economic growth do not magically ‘trickle down’ and spread prosperity. The question must be asked – cui bono? (who benefits?)
What would ‘inclusive growth’ look like? It is easy to see what it doesn’t look like. Take Qatar, for example, with £12,500 per capita GDP in 2019 – by this measure the 7th richest country in the world, well above the UK in a relatively lowly 23rd. However, the wealth of Qatar is not shared with the 85% of its 2.6 million population who are classified as ‘foreign residents’ – low paid migrant workers from poorer countries.
So far this situation is manageable in Qatar, but social division and economic exclusion are generally not good for social harmony. Besides other objections, divided societies are troubled and inefficient, as resources are devoted to controlling or protecting the casualties of badly managed growth. Economic growth is not the opposite of inclusion. Investing in skills, providing decent social protection and expanding opportunities (human capital and capabilities in the Economic jargon) pays dividends by improving productivity, stimulating demand and liberating people to try new endeavours.
The new Regional Inclusive Growth Research Network (RIGRN) can contribute to this process by generating new knowledge and sharing insights from hard won experience. One obvious lesson is to not repeat failed ideologically-driven initiatives which may have transformed places but not the opportunities of deprived communities who were displaced or excluded from these – London Docklands comes to mind: the UK’s own mini-Qatar. Inclusive growth starts with working with people and communities rather than doing things to them. Progress is achieved by making bad ideas rather than productive people redundant.
Ayrshire Inclusive Growth Action Plan
The £250m Ayrshire Growth Deal (AGD) will provide much-needed momentum to help propel forward economic growth across the area, although this will need to be supported fully by mainstream public sector expenditure and private sector investment if the gap between the Ayrshire economy and Scotland’s is to be significantly reduced. Additionally, however, the AGD deal offers an opportunity to promote inclusive growth, and again Ayrshire performs poorly on many indicators of inclusivity and inequality relative to Scottish averages.
To help the drive towards inclusive growth, Scottish Enterprise and the University of Glasgow have undertaken to work with the 3 Ayrshire local authorities, national agencies and other local players to develop an Inclusive Growth Action Plan. The focus will be on two broad strands.
- Actions to maximise the benefits flowing to more disadvantaged groups and communities of the work involved at the implementation stage of the AGD projects.
- Actions to ensure that, when projects are completed, a significant proportion of the benefits associated with the services or other benefits provided through the projects over the long-term are enjoyed by the more disadvantaged groups and communities.
It is essential that the planning for maximising the benefits in terms of inclusivity is carried out now, and the measures required to bring together any necessary resource to implement that plan are then considered at an early stage.
The preparation of the Action Plan will involve the following steps.
- Extensive work has previously been carried out using the Inclusive Growth Diagnostic, piloted in North Ayrshire then rolled out to Ayrshire as a whole. It is essential that the action plan builds on the results of the diagnostic process.
- Each AGD project will be considered, with a view to identifying their potential for securing significant gains in terms of inclusion benefits for Ayrshire’s priority groups – both at the development and implemtation stage, and over the long term when the projects have been delivered.
- The next stage is to identify any new measures or interventions, or additions to existing relevant services, which will be required in order to unlock the maximum benefits from each project for Ayrshire’s more disadvantaged groups and communities.
- Discussions will then be held in workshop settings with the key stakeholders to generate the detail in the Inclusive Growth Action Plan.
- The plan will cover a period of 3–5 years, but will also identify a series of essential early actions. A process for overseeing and managing the implementation of the Action Plan will be developed.
- The final element will be the specification of an outline monitoring and evaluation plan.
The development of the Plan will be led by Professor Alan McGregor from the Adam Smith Business School at the University of Glasgow, and will be completed by the summer of 2019.
Regional Inclusive Growth Research Network established
Policy Scotland, a research and knowledge exchange centre at the University of Glasgow, is facilitating a new regional inclusive growth research network with support from the Scottish Centre for Regional Inclusive Growth.
The network is being coordinated by Dr Linda Christie, to help bring together researchers with a shared interest to help shape and make progress on an inclusive growth research agenda in Scotland.
The Regional Inclusive Growth Research Network (RIGRN) will meet three times this year, each meeting focusing on a different theme related to policy-making.
1. Inclusive Growth Policy: Understanding the research domains, priorities, and challenges
2. Defining Inclusive Growth Policy: Delivery and measurement of inclusive growth policy
3. Evaluation and Impact of Inclusive Growth Policy Outcomes
At each of the network meetings, guest speakers will set the context followed by facilitated, participatory discussions where members can learn from each other and identify research gaps, opportunities and solutions in a creative and open environment.
The Network aims to make a distinct contribution to shaping the inclusive growth research agenda across Scotland, by informing the evolving public policy landscape surrounding inclusive growth, and supporting independent research and analysis that will have an impact on practice.
It is Policy Scotland’s aim to support the coordination of research across academic, private, public and third sectors, at regional-metropolitan (and Scottish) levels.
The Policy Scotland website has more information about the RIGRN, including how to join.
The first meeting is taking place in mid-March in Glasgow; please get in touch if you’d like to attend or hear more.
Robert Burns and the Scottish economy – Professor Murray Pittock, University of Glasgow
A study of Robert Burns and the Scottish Economy, funded by the Scottish Government (Economic Development directorate) in 2018-19, will assess how much the worldwide fascination with Scotland’s national bard is supporting Scottish business and jobs.
Led by Professor Murray Pittock at the University of Glasgow, the research will also look at the potential for Burns to further support Regional Inclusive Growth.
While there have been studies of the economic impact of cultural industries before, this is believed to be a world first in carrying out a thorough assessment of the economic value of a global icon. An estimated 9.5 million people attend Burns Suppers worldwide every year, and the poet himself is an important component of Scotland’s national brand. An earlier outline study done for the BBC in 2003 indicated that Burns was worth £157M. Since then his brand has been significantly enhanced by an increasing global profile and enhanced visitor facilities, while the market for Scottish produce has substantially expanded in the past fifteen years.
Tourism and food and drink are two of the three largest industries in Scotland, which in their turn reflect a highly visible national Scottish brand in the global marketplace, a brand which owes an enormous debt to Scotland’s 18th and 19th century history. We need to understand the relationship between our culture and our economy more fully in order to maximise our already world-leading position.
Within the UK, culture and heritage tourism in Scotland attracts more visitors than anywhere outside London. Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway is second only to Shakespeare among UK writers’ museums in its visitor numbers.
But if Burns is a global figure, he is also intensely a local one, a poster boy for Regional Inclusive Growth. Burns has been seen as the no. 1 reason that people visit Ayrshire, and four of the houses he stayed in the Dumfries area are still standing. The project is working with the South of Scotland Economic Partnership (SoSEP), the emerging Ayrshire Regional Partnership and local businesses such as FreshAyr to both measure and maximize the economic impact of Burns in regional terms.
The project submitted its interim report to the Scottish Government on St Andrews Day, which examined the role of Burns in Tourism, Festivals, Food, Drink and Retail, as well as indicators of his value to local house prices and community wellbeing. The preliminary report addressed issues of Regional Inclusive Growth, which ranged from the future profile of Prestwick Airport to the Taste of Arran scheme and the linkage of Burns to food tourism. The final report, due by September 2019, will account for these areas in more depth and will also explore the value of Burns to education, publishing and music as well as providing a model for valuing Burns as a major contributing brand to the Scottish economy in terms of his function in raising the country’s profile overseas.
Pushing the Boundaries of the Possible – Rhetoric or Reality? It’s Our Choice – Robert Pollock, Chair of Economic Development Association of Scotland
Recognising the limitations of the possible is a fact of life for economic development professionals. We operate in a complex web of multi-scalar interdependencies and relations which are economic, political, technological, social and, increasingly, environmental. By way of example, the UK’s model of capitalism is by international standards one of the more liberal forms. In turn, the choices and actions of economic development professionals are circumscribed by this institutional reality. As one wit observed at a recent regional development conference, you may be able to choose the topping of your pizza, even stretch the dough, but at the end of the day it’s still pizza.
However, such limitations are only one side of the coin. Over my two decades of working in economic development, I am amazed at the scope of possibilities to make our communities, our regions, our nation, better places. Economic development professionals have continually proven themselves to be agents of positive change by working with the tools at their disposal, whilst innovating and seeking out new ones.
The economic development process is never a stable one. It is a process contingent on political intent and the fluidity of markets and industries. Recently, policy emphasis has been placed on Regional Economic Partnerships and Inclusive Growth. Co-ordinating economic development at a regional level has many advantages in relation to labour markets, asset utilisation, infrastructure etc. Moreover, the intention of addressing the inequitable social and spatial consequences of the UK’s model of capitalism is welcome. A new organising and conceptual framework is emerging which has evident merits.
As with every new framework, it has to respond to the reality in which it is emerging. All economic scales are important; local, regional, Scottish, UK and international. Therefore, we need to get better at responding to the interplay of these scales in our policy making and delivery. Too many regional development policies are “introverted” (a word used recently in this context by Marc Lemaitre, DG Regio’s Director General) and give insufficient cognisance to linking regional assets to broader industrial, economic and institutional forces and cycles that determine their utilisation. In addition, an increasing focus on Scotland’s regional heterogeneity is notable. This is welcome given that some regions are relatively prosperous and integrated whilst others are markedly more disadvantaged and peripheral. If we aspire to spatial cohesion and equity in Scotland, there is a requirement to transfer resources and capacity and stimulate demand accordingly. Regional diversity necessitates differing responses. In this regard, the formation of the South of Scotland agency represents a welcome development.
Finally, as an economic development community – local and national government, the enterprise and skills agencies, and the third sector – we need to co-evolve. There is a requirement for us to further develop the capacity for transformational change in uncertain times. EDAS is playing its part in this collective task through CPD, conferences, networking events, briefings and a pilot Community of Practice. In a small networked country like ours, we should all push the boundaries of the possible.
Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills
The Scottish Government wants to work with local authorities, businesses
and others to grow a network of Regional Economic Partnerships. the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work, Derek Mackay set out the argument for developing strong regional economies in the very first blog on this SCRIG site. There is a clear link between a strong regional distribution of economic activity and positive social impact: something which has informed this government’s fundamental position on using the economy to drive inclusive economic growth.
So, if that is the goal, how can Regional Economic Partnerships help? First, I think we need to look back at the way they have been created. Regional Partnerships draw on the experience of City and Regional growth deals: they see the benefits that can arise when local authorities work together with one another, with our enterprise and skills agencies, universities and colleges, the third sector and the private sector. These deals have already seen the SG commit over £1.125 billion to grow the Scottish economy, enabling creation of over 60,000 jobs, and supporting skills programmes, infrastructure and innovation.
Having been able to achieve such positive progress, it is only logical that we extend that thinking and encourage regional stakeholders to come together and develop regional economic plans, with shared outcomes, responsibilities, and alignment of priorities and resources. To do this we need to listen to the diverse voices partnership working brings. Using the Inclusive Growth Diagnostic, and coupling it with local expertise and knowledge, allows Regional Economic Partnerships to focus on the strengths of their place, their communities, and to plan meaningful change.
Some people view government as being about directing and instructing, but in Regional Economic Partnerships our aim is to enable, be one of the partners: offering support and expertise, but respecting regional skills, knowledge and priorities. Drawing on the strengths and insight of the private sector, along with education and skills providers, our goal is to empower and enable Regional economies to develop their areas of expertise, advantage and skills and use this to drive inclusive economic growth.
We’ve seen great work already in Aberdeen City and Shire, partnering with Opportunity North East to link in to private sector needs – notably on the Oil and Gas Technology Centre. Developing partnerships such as Glasgow City Region and the Tay Cities have looked to forge strong links with the local Chambers of Commerce. However these links are made, they are key to the success of the Regional Partnership approach. I look forward to these partnerships maturing and delivering the sort of collaboration and innovation that I’m sure will accelerate inclusive growth throughout their regions.
Dr Lesley Sawers, Scotland Commissioner for Equalities and Human Rights
The Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is the statutory regulator for equality in Scotland but our role is about much more than just holding people and organisations to account. We also play a key leadership role in helping to develop socio-economic policies and programmes that will deliver a fairer and more equal Scotland. In this role we passionately believe that inclusive economic growth has the potential to remedy some of Scotland’s most intractable social problems. Today in Scotland disabled people are twice as likely to be unemployed, even in our leading industry sectors women are too often concentrated in junior or middle management posts or low paying roles, and ethnic minorities are twice as like to be unemployed and living in poverty.
Because we see the huge potential of inclusive growth, the EHRC has been working with the Scottish Government and City Deal Partnerships to focus their efforts on economic and social inclusion. Over the last 12 months, working with Johanna Boyd, the ex-leader of Stirling Council, we have been supporting Scotland’s City Regions to develop equality outcomes which will guide their work – for example the Glasgow region deal could create 29, 000 new jobs. Our challenge to the partnerships is for them to state how many of these jobs will go to ethnic minorities, women and disabled people. And to work with them to put in place impact and outcome measures that will monitor progress and change over the lifetime of the capital investment programmes.
Our aim is to make inclusive growth truly inclusive. Scotland has a huge untapped workforce of talented and skilled people, who are currently sitting idle. Discrimination – whether conscious or unconscious – acts as a barrier to their progression. For some disabled people, the issue may not be anything to do with their skills but everything to do with an inaccessible transport system which fails to get them to work, or being trapped in a house which is unsuited to their needs.
We don’t believe that Scottish public bodies or agencies go out of their way to discriminate but we do believe that not enough see social inclusion as a core operating or investment principle.
Procurement is a key example of how in Scotland we can use economic levers to drive social change. The law allows public sector contractors to place equality award criteria and contractual conditions on tenders. Simply asking the question “How many women do you employ now and how many will you be employing at the end of the contract” sets a clear expectation that equality is a key deliverable. But too few currently do it. It’s our ambition to make this common practice. It makes sense for the public purse, for society and for the economy.
By working together we believe we can deliver a fairer and more equitable Scotland, where inclusive growth works for everyone and success is measured in terms of enhanced lifetime opportunities and community transformation.
The EHRC is here to support the mainstreaming of inclusive growth equality practice. You can contact the team – Chris, Helen and Johanna – for further help – at email@example.com
People, Place and Prosperity – Scotland’s Regional Economies
Ross Martin, Regional Economic Advisor, Scottish Government.
Scotland’s Economy is a reflection of its people – increasingly diverse, with strong and proud roots in this place where we choose to live, work and play.
Looked at through the lens of our most prominent people, e.g. our current crop of world class sports stars, it is visibly productive like Andy Murray, but like him, all too often having to bounce back from injury. It’s innovative, just like our national rugby teams, led by the inventive Gregor Townsend and his protégé Shade Munro, both of whom are keenly trying out new ideas, not afraid to fail, at least on occasion.
More and more Scotland’s Economy is also finding international success on the global stage, like the inspirational and grittily determined Laura Muir, and perhaps most characteristically it’s inclusive, and all the more competitive for it, just like our World Cup qualifying Scottish Women’s International Football Team.
These four core characteristics reflect those of Scotland’s Economy – productive capacity, increasing levels of innovation, a more confident internationalisation and of course our long standing, innate sense of inclusivity. These are the hallmarks of inclusive and sustainable growth, they build in resilience as standard, by learning the lessons of the past to better prepare for and shape the future.
Scotland’s Economy is undergoing a long awaited, fundamental shift; from old economy to new, high to low carbon, analogue to digital, driven by data and predictive analytics. But above all, it is recognising the role, power and productive functionality of its regions. Gathering around the infrastructure investment flags of City and other Growth Deals, Scotland’s Economy is shaping up to be more competitive and resilient in an increasingly uncertain context, through the development of its regional economies.
In economic terms this translates into diversity, with a focus on their current, previous and projected performance, with the additionality that their collective efforts can bring, including through the most challenging, but potentially most productive, reform of revenue, on both the income and expenditure sides of the public sector balance sheet.
This is the challenge and the opportunity. SCRIG is here to help you grasp it.
A month since launch
It has been around a month since the launch of SCRIG and we have been busy despite it being the summer. We have made a number of improvements to the IG dashboard and are now up to version 1.11. The main changes have been to add extra equalities data and make the formatting easier and quicker.
We have also had some queries over the SCRIG Logo, specifically what one part in particular is. A full explanation can be found here.
Inclusive Growth Community of Practice launched
EDAS Inclusive Growth Community of Practice launched on 19 June to support public, private and third sector practitioners working to deliver inclusive growth.
The event report is available here.
From Diversity Scotland’s Economy Draws Strength – Derek Mackay, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work.
A common feature of successful economies in Europe and across the world is a strong regional distribution of economic activity and positive social impact. This approach demands more than just an acceptance of difference in relation to the roles which regions play within the national economy, it encourages drawing strength from the diversity between them.
Scotland’s Centre for Regional Inclusive Growth will develop the evidence base for regional economic decision-making, and will support our regional economies within a framework that recognises the respective roles of the Scottish Government and its agencies alongside those of local government, the private sector and the increasingly important social economy too.
Scotland’s economy is fundamentally strong. However, as the uncertainties around Brexit approach it is more important than ever to provide our emerging, locally driven network of Regional Economic Partnerships with the tools to drive Inclusive Growth. The Inclusive Growth Diagnostic will make a wealth of regional level data available, and our National Economic Asset Register will offer the ability to draw upon our existing strengths, and draw upon our huge economic potential.
The analytical tools provided by SCRIG will better enable our regions to collaborate with one another, to compete internationally and will improve our regional and national adaptability and resilience.
The launch of SCRIG is a step towards a Scottish economy which leaves no one – and no place – behind. This is a time for strong regional economies and SCRIG will help regional partners design, develop and deliver the Inclusive Growth which will mark Scotland out as an outstanding place in which to live, work, play and invest.