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Inclusive Growth Decision-making Tool

Evaluation of Priorities

Will the project support inclusive growth?

Through Stage 1, it has been established that the project’s primary aim is to drive growth in the context of at least one of the 7 priority areas. In this second step you should go through those areas which you checked as yes in Stage 1.

Through Stages 2 and 3 we will establish whether that growth is likely to be inclusive, that is, whether it will benefit those who are on the lower end of the income distribution, or who face specific economic barriers.

It is not sufficient to assume that the outcomes of growth will benefit these groups or individuals automatically or to leave it to chance.

Nor is it sufficient to leave the social benefits until afterwards. Through Stage 2 we seek to probe the nature and quality of those outcomes by reviewing operational plans in order to determine the mechanics of how the project will work.

The objective behind Stage 2 is to interrogate the logic chain behind the intended priority area and the mechanics of how growth will be delivered in a way that promotes inclusive growth. We have set out example evaluation criteria for each of the major inclusive growth priority areas to provide suggested outcomes. It is important that different impacts on the same beneficiaries are not double counted. It is also important that this assessment is done in a flexible way, which values projects that make a cross-cutting contribution across different areas.

Across each strategic priority selected, the project should be assessed on whether it contributes to inclusive growth using a qualitative score – ‘requires improvement’, ‘satisfactory’ or ‘good’ – based on a set of evaluation criteria outlined in pages 9 to 15. The evaluation process can be carried out by filling in the worksheet at the end of this document, together with a short note justifying the chosen score for each objective.


Employment is an important contributor to inclusive growth. However, not all employment opportunities will have the same impact. Employment that pays a decent income and offers the potential for training and growth – in short, a quality job – will help drive economic growth at the macro level whilst also helping to improve the lives of individuals and households.

Not all jobs will necessarily deliver inclusive growth. For example, the creation of highly skilled opportunities is unlikely to target some of the most vulnerable groups of people. It is important to ensure a balance of both skilled jobs and quality entry-level or more accessible roles and to be deliberate about developing future looking career pathways.

To assess whether the jobs created through your project could be considered sustainable, quality jobs, further diligence may be required to check the nature of the jobs (type/length of contract, pay rates, etc.) and the likely employers. It will also be important to identify the net additional jobs. This will help to determine whether the final jobs are likely to support inclusive growth by paying the real living wage and providing training, or contribute to cycles of precarious work with people moving between low-pay work and being out of work.

Evaluation criteria
  • Jobs that pay the real living wage or higher
  • Jobs with employers that provide career ladders or on the job training
  • Employment that is accessible to young people as their first full time job, paying the real living wage or higher
  • An apprenticeship paying the living wage or higher
  • Jobs with employers that actively support health and wellbeing of employees or who are ‘investor in people’ (or similar) certified
  • Jobs which include predictable hours or can be flexible around caring responsibilities

The provision of skills is an important measure to deliver inclusive growth. Training opportunities, whether in-work, or through a dedicated programme supporting people to transition into better quality work at better wages, also improve productivity at the macroeconomic level.

Some economic growth projects are dedicated skills projects - for instance, sector-based training. Infrastructure developments (including within identified growth corridors and urban centres) can consider access to up-skilling opportunities as part of their delivery plans and the potential to offer access to skills provision in community settings – for example English as a second language.

When establishing criteria to evaluate the training & skills contribution in is important to consider both those individuals who are in-work and those who are out-of-work.

Evaluation criteria
  • Increase the number of people receiving on-going, ‘on-the-job’ (informal) or formal training in the work place
  • Increase the number of people in work with vocational qualifications
  • Increase the number of unemployed people undertaking formal and soft skills training which meet the needs of local employers and lead to employment opportunities
  • Reduce the number of NEETs through formal and soft skills training which meet the needs of local employers and lead to employment opportunities
  • Create additional basic skills courses which are accessible to communities in a local setting
  • Increase the number of people with vocational qualifications, including functional skills, in sustainable employment
Business Competitiveness and Productivity

Promoting innovation to boost productivity is an element of economic growth policy and one of the focuses of the UK Industrial Strategy. But productivity also matters for developing an inclusive economy. According to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, stagnating productivity is the main driver of stagnating earnings since the financial crisis. Boosting productivity could therefore help improve living standards, raise earnings and achieve inclusive growth.

Although productivity policies often focus on places and sectors that are already performing highly, many productivity challenges and opportunities are in traditionally low pay sectors. Moreover, there are notable differences between productivity levels of businesses within sectors, which require targeted action and diverse forms of business support (including financial support, expert advice, etc.).

There are a number of mechanisms whereby grants or loans can be made to small businesses to support growth and productivity improvements. Often, the case for funding is based on whether there is a market failure or an opportunity for business growth, and/or innovation can be accelerated through public finance, in lieu of private sector finance, which is often not available.

These projects can also be assessed to determine whether they support inclusive growth. This should include factors such as whether the SME will employ additional people who are living in, or at risk of, poverty as a direct result of the investment; or whether the investment will provide additional capacity to train or upskill people.

 Evaluation criteria
  • Enable the business to create net additional jobs at the real living wage, which will target those at the lower end of the income scale
  • Encourage alternative business models, such as social enterprises and co-operatives
  • Enable entrepreneurship and support the creation of start-ups by inclusive growth beneficiaries
  • Link underserved areas on low incomes with employment areas through new transport links
  • Create new direct transport links between areas on low income and city centres, or areas with amenities like hospitals
  • Enable businesses in low productivity sectors to improve efficiency of their processes and practices, through investment, innovation and/or advice.
  • Support for in-work training programmes and up-skilling, including management skills


Accessibility - Connectivity and Mobility

Connectivity can enable economic and productivity growth, linking key markets and businesses, and connecting labour markets to economic activity. In the WM this means a multi- modal system, with a high value on environmental sustainability by encouraging use of public transport, walking and cycling, and reduced car usage.

But public transport does not always run through areas in which people, particularly people on low incomes, live. In other cases where areas are served by transport infrastructure, the quality of service is not good enough or the cost of use might be prohibitive, excluding certain groups.

It is important to assess transport projects on the basis of the population that will be served by the investment, considering the spatial areas that will be opened up and connected to each other by the new or improved transport link; the cost of the transport mode (both in terms of time and money) when compared to alternative transport mode; and the environmental impact.

Digital connectivity is equally important. To be inclusive, all residents must have both access to and the ability to benefit from investment in digital infrastructure. This means a focus on where the infrastructure is laid, accessibility to kit (e.g. access to a computer with internet connection, for instance in a library) and digital literacy through targeted training. Technology can also have an important role in improving access to services, participation and quality of life for residents, particularly in more remote areas.

Evaluation criteria
  • Link underserved areas on low incomes with employment areas through new transport links
  • Create new direct transport links between areas on low income and city centres, or areas with amenities like hospitals
  • Reduce the cost of transport for areas of low income
  • Design schemes that promote the use of environmentally sustainable travel modes, mainly walking and cycling.
  • Link underserved areas on low incomes with new and upgraded broadband and to be 5G ready
  • Provide space for free access to computers to those on low incomes
  • Encourage digital literacy through upskilling and training programmes



The provision of housing has become an important government priority; the lack of availability of affordable housing across many parts of Britain is leading to financial squeezes on household income whilst also impacting on quality of life. With population set to increase by 400,000 by 2038, the West Midlands is one of the areas leading the country in provision of new housing and retrofitting older properties, prioritising brownfield sites and areas well connected by public transport.

The construction of housing has the additional advantage of providing an immediate and effective boost to economic growth through the creation
of jobs and consumption of building materials.

The West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy is committed to invest £250m in land remediation across the region and developing the skills required through the National Brownfield Institute in Wolverhampton.

With that said, consideration should be given to who will benefit from the additional houses – are they being designed and constructed to change an area’s population and reduce demand and need upon public services? Or are they being designed and constructed for low-income people who require good quality, affordable homes? The ownership & size of the housing and the public realm, such as access to green space, should also be considered in assessing if the homes are ‘good quality’.

If the primary objective of the project is to provide additional housing, it may also be useful to consider skills and jobs created through the construction process.

Evaluation criteria
  • Increase the availability of good quality, affordable and shared ownership housing within an area
  • Increase the availability of good quality affordable housing with sustainable employment access
  • Provide employment opportunities (including upskilling) for unskilled/ low income people through construction & retrofitting, including apprenticeships
  • Promote projects that engage local residents to maximise buy-in to the project
  • Provide housing management models which include support to unemployed/low income tenants to find work and manage tenancies


Land and Environment

Much locally available funding is focussed on developing and improving places. While it is clear that the aim of such projects is to increase economic growth by changing the population and economic dynamics of a place, it is also possible to achieve these aims whilst also ensuring that the net additional growth created is shared throughout a community. Alongside this, there can be environmental inclusive growth benefits by increasing clean energy and local storage.

The West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy highlights the need for some town centres to re-invent themselves and meet the needs of their residents. It also commits us to a net gain in biodiversity, including the West Midlands extensive river and canal network and the links between town centres and the regions diverse wildlife.

Good use of land can deliver economic growth, improve quality of life, and to promote inclusive and sustainable build environments. Following the principles of Universal Design will ensure places can be accessed, understood and used by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability. Regeneration projects should also promote energy-efficient solutions, the use of sustainable sources of energy, protect natural and cultural heritage and maximize access to the natural environment.

Inclusive growth in land & environment projects can be achieved through the actual physical construction. But it can also be achieved by ensuring that the regenerated environment is designed for all in the community, and not just those with the largest disposable income, protects and enhances the local natural landscape and promotes the principles of sustainable development.

Evaluation criteria
  • Provide employment opportunities (including upskilling) for unskilled/ low income people through the construction and delivery, including apprenticeships at the real living wage
  • Increase access to clean energy and provision for local storage
  • Provide housing (if mixed development) that will be available at all income levels
  • Promote local influence on development, and involve the local community in planning physical developments including capital projects, the use of public space, etc.
  • Ensure regeneration projects minimise displacement and do not fragment cohesive communities and thriving business districts.
  • Promote construction of new buildings with high energy efficiency or retrofitting of existing buildings to decrease energy consumption.
  • Promote access to natural environments and the provision of green and public spaces.



Good health is a pre-requisite for economic productivity and prosperity and improves people’s quality of life. It feeds into the economy through higher productivity, higher labour supply, improved skills and increased savings for investment in physical and intellectual capital.

Ill-health and disease has ramifications beyond the individual – it creates challenges for families with additional caring responsibilities, reduced incomes and a potentially wider negative effect on life chances. For businesses, it has a negative impact on their productivity and competitiveness through absenteeism and poorer in-work performance.

Whilst for cities and communities the consequences compound, with a detrimental impact on economic prosperity and reduced levels of social and economic inclusion. Indeed, policies and actions that work for populations as a whole often act to entrench inequality for certain portions of it. Accordingly, ensuring that prevention reaches all, and does not act to further entrench health inequalities will need to be central to the prevention agenda.

The links between health, wellbeing, inclusion and successful economies have long been recognised. Prevention is about far more than just health; it has a strong role to play within an inclusive growth agenda and improving wellbeing. A preventative approach strengthens the social infrastructure so that individuals, families and communities have the capacity, capabilities and resilience to participate fully in society and economic growth. And where individuals are unable to participate, prevention can contribute to creating stronger, inclusive communities by maximising their wellbeing.

Evaluation criteria
  • Prioritise early intervention and prevention in a way that confronts the root causes of ill health
  • Create the conditions to support residents to remain in sustainable employment, including mental health support
  • Improve access to green space and opportunities for physical activity
  • Create opportunities to lower barriers to accessing health and care services