Inclusive Growth in Practice

The concept of inclusive growth has become increasingly widely deployed by policymakers as a route to “making our economy work for everyone”, in the context of rising inequality. The RSA Inclusive Growth Commission defines it as “enabling as many people to contribute to and benefit from growth”.1 The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) sets out two questions which sit at the heart of inclusive growth: who is benefitting from economic growth and what outcomes do we want it to deliver?

This implies an interconnected and mutually reinforcing dual approach to interventions:

  • INFLUENCING GROWTH: Boosting employers’ demand for skills, shaping the occupational and sectoral make-up of the economy, and ultimately pushing up levels of pay and conditions of employment. These are primarily focussed on stimulating demand.
  • INFLUENCE INCLUSION: Connecting people to the opportunities that exist 1 Inclusive Growth Commission (2017) Making our Economy Work for Everyone. RSA. See the labour market through better education, transport and employment support. These are primarily focussed on stimulating supply.

There is huge complexity to the socio-economic issues that underpin the challenge of inequality – which are structural and evident both nationally and internationally. There are a range of different stakeholders and agencies that could have an impact on inclusive growth. Yet there is an increasing recognition internationally that the local level is the right scale at which to address the challenge of inclusive growth.3 In the UK there is an increasing need to isolate and understand how local authorities can have an impact on outcomes in their locality in practice.

Many local authorities have been actively exploring what the concept and a high-level ambition for inclusive growth means in their area. It has been used and adopted across councils of different political persuasions, tiers and regions. Essex County Council’s Essex Organisation Strategy4 and Leeds City Council’s Leeds Growth Strategy5 are good examples of strategies incorporating the theme and objectives, and the recently established Breakthrough Basildon Borough Commission6is an example of a district council convening an approach within their borough.

This Innovation Briefing sets out three case studies which demonstrate how different areas have understood the challenge and devised their response accordingly.