West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has announced its membership of a new network of councils and combined authorities leading the drive for an inclusive economic recovery across the UK.
The Inclusive Growth Network is a new initiative hosted by the Centre of Progressive Policy, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and supported by the Royal Society of Arts (the RSA) and Metro Dynamics.
With the coronavirus crisis exacerbating economic and social challenges across the West Midlands, the network will act as an incubator for new ideas and policies designed to reduce inequalities, alleviate poverty and improve productivity within communities, during the Covid-19 crisis and thereafter.
As a member of the Inclusive Growth Network, WMCA will have access to peer-to-peer and tailored support (including research and implementation advice) to help address individual challenges and opportunities within communities and deliver on plans to improve the local economy.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands said: “I am delighted that the West Midlands Combined Authority has joined the new Inclusive Growth Network hosted by the Centre for Progressive Policy.
“We are committed to promoting inclusive growth across the West Midlands that all of our residents and communities can benefit from such as our homes policy which links affordability to incomes rather than market rates, our adoption of the Real Living Wage, and work we have done on a regeneration proposal in Solihull. While the Covid-19 crisis presents challenges for our economy, we are committed to securing an inclusive recovery for everyone across our region.
“Covid-19 has had distinctive impacts on regions across the UK and we look forward to working with other areas to help drive our recovery ambitions and the levelling up of regions across the UK. This is not just about economic growth, it's about growth that creates a fair society with opportunities for everyone.”
Charlotte Alldritt, director of the Centre for Progressive Policy, said: “Inequality in the UK has been growing for decades but the case for inclusive growth has never been stronger than it is today. The public health and economic emergency has intensified regional discrepancies, put added pressure on local government finances and public services, and exposed the weaknesses of our overly centralised policymaking processes.
“National policies are simply too blunt an instrument to tackle complex economic and social challenges alone. Our recovery needs to be guided by local leaders, who best understand the issues facing their communities, whether those are job losses, skills shortages or problems accessing health and social care.
“The first of its kind, the Inclusive Growth Network will help leaders to work together, share ideas and showcase the brightest solutions to the most pressing challenges, so that everyone can contribute to and benefit from economic recovery and growth.”
Helen Barnard, acting director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said: “This year has shown us that even if we are in the same boat, not everyone is equally able to weather the economic storms we are faced with. The impacts of Covid have fallen most heavily on those who were already struggling to stay afloat, and local economies that had already fallen behind.
“As we look towards recovery it is essential that existing poverty does not become more entrenched and local areas can rebuild their local economy to work for everyone. Local leadership can ensure that the response is tailored effectively to the specific needs of people in different parts of the country.
“This network will support local and combined authorities to share knowledge about what works and try out new ways of strengthening their local economies. By implementing new approaches and learning from each other, leaders can prevent the worst economic effects of the pandemic from hitting those who are least able to weather the storm and remodel their local economy to boost living standards and productivity.”
Cllr Ian Brookfield, WMCA portfolio holder for economy and innovation and leader of City of Wolverhampton Council said: “The West Midlands is an innovative, resilient and agile region, and we will rebuild from this pandemic stronger than ever. By joining with other councils and combined authorities we will benefit from sharing and developing new ideas to grow our region’s economy.”
WMCA is one of twelve member areas forming the Inclusive Growth Network. Other members include:
• Belfast City Council
• Bristol City Council
• Cardiff Council
• Liverpool City Region Combined Authority
• Glasgow City Council
• London Borough of Barking and Dagenham
• North Ayrshire Council
• North of Tyne Combined Authority
• Leeds City Council
• Greater Manchester Combined Authority
• Sheffield City Region Combined Authority
• West Midlands Combined Authority
Further information on the IGN can be found @IGN_tweets