The pandemic has profoundly impacted our social capital, and in turn our social economy, leading to significant disparities within the region. This is particularly prevalent in the most economically excluded groups, such as ethnic minorities and those with low-paid jobs.
For example, one of the regional challenges is lower levels of satisfaction in their local area compared to other regions such as the South West. Across England, the West Midlands population was the least satisfied with their region, at 73.9%.
The ‘social economy’ draws on this supply of social capital to create businesses that provide economic fuel for these mutual benefits, which can be both social and environmental in nature.
The WMCA has an opportunity to use a fair share of the national Dormant Assets Fund to boost social capital. By investing into ‘left behind’ population groups and places, we can in turn boost pride in place and in doing so, grow the social economy across the region.
By adopting a ‘no one left behind’ philosophy, we can create greater inclusion within social capital and the social economy – the WMCA’s aim is to double the social economy within 10 years.
Progress So Far…
In 2021, WMCA developed a strategy to invest in the region’s social economy, entitled “Growing the social economy in the West Midlands”.
- These plans were developed in response to recommendations made by the SocialEconomy Taskforce, a group convened by the West Midlands Combined Authority(WMCA), to double the size of the socialeconomy in ten years.
- It is estimated that HM Treasury will see between approximately £3.7 million andup to a maximum of £11.4 million over five years from our programme of tailoredsupport.
- This will boost business skills and confidence to enable growth, representingsignificant fiscal value and value for money, whilst achieving a positive community and environmental impact.
Levelling Up Mission:
By 2030, pride in place, such as people’s satisfaction with their town centres and engagement in local culture and community, will have risen in every area of the UK, with the gap between top performing and other areas closing.
WMCA and partners will create the Social Capital Resilience Fund and focus on the following three areas:
Establishing a Community Wealth Fund for ‘left behind places’
- The Community Wealth Fund, led by LocalTrust is a national proposal, supported at the regional level by the Mayor of the WMCA and GMCA as well as our West Midlands local authorities;
- Its aim is to unlock ‘unclaimed assets’ for the creation of the Community WealthFund, enabling long-term investment and control of local investment to communities.
Powering the inclusion engine: ensuring that excluded population groups can benefit from, and contribute to, social capital
- This ask’s main priority is ensuring excluded groups can thrive and benefit and contribute to social capital using dormant assets. Priorities could be on distinct excluded groups;
- Universal Family Fund, investing in young people to enable the rights for all to live, work, learn and earn;
- Homelessness prevention through a devolved regional fund.
Gainshare for social economy growth
- WMCA’s first devolution deal grew a substantial capital programme from again share arrangement with HM Treasury;
- This proposal suggests an amended version of that, either as a standalone or broader proposal, focused on delivering the growth ambitions and associated plans articulated in Growing the social economy in the WMA area, and piloting the Power toChange-designed High Street Buyout Fund.
What We Hope to Achieve
- Boosting social capital whilst growing social economy by investment in ‘left behind' groups.
- Delivery of wider positive social, economic, and environmental outcomes in line with the West Midlands Outcomes Framework, such as leading to increased revenue to the treasury.
- Potential for local administration, grounded in the clusters where needed the most ensuring local solutions match priorities.
- Unlocking further the skills and confidence for social enterprise, cooperatives, and community businesses to grow.
- Providing a catalyst for reinvestment into specific programmes supporting the pathway to Net Zero.
- Enabling local and transformative investment in our High Streets, strengthening local economies, and enabling citizens the power and resources to create and grow high streets in their own vision.