Creating inclusive economies

People can’t fully participate in society when they’re worrying about affording the basics.

To play an active role in their community, people need opportunities in the places they want to live. They also need to know they’re getting a fair deal.

We need a fairer economic model that works for people and the planet.

Boost social infrastructure

Social infrastructure is the spaces and places that connect us. For example, parks, playgrounds and community centres. These spaces are often provided by charities.

Social infrastructure is in decline, particularly in more disadvantaged areas. We know that many charities struggle to access the spaces they need to deliver their missions. Since the rise in inflation, they’re also struggling to maintain and future-proof them.

Investment in social infrastructure is vital to improve economic growth and life outcomes across the country.

Social infrastructure research by Frontier Economics reveals that for every £1m invested in social infrastructure, there are fiscal returns of £1.2m. There are also wider economic returns worth a further £2m. This includes a £700,000 boost in employment, training and skills opportunities for local residents.

We want the next government to:

  • create a social infrastructure strategy. This should provide investment and support for charities who run and maintain the spaces and places that connect us. It should also help them work towards net zero
  • give communities greater powers and funding to protect the facilities and services they value most
  • plan for how buildings and spaces can be maximised for local wellbeing
  • introduce community right to own schemes. These would support communities to reclaim valued local assets and amenities that are in decline and under threat. The schemes would also give communities first right of refusal to purchase Assets of Community Value (ACV) that come to market
  • encourage councils to use the Community Asset Transfer mechanism. This would build long-term social value in communities.

Target funding

Local services and spending are essential to support local economies. This includes well-funded childcare, social care and transport.

Current funding models make it harder for local authorities in deprived areas to raise the money they need. Funding should be directed to areas that need it most. Government should also get rid of unnecessary bureaucracy and funding competition.

We want the next government to:

  • build on community wealth approaches and direct spend locally. This includes building on the Community Wealth Fund to provide locally-led funding in deprived areas
  • provide a successor to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. This funding should be aimed at tackling inequality and empowering people to take control of their own lives. It should also enable long-term individualised support.

Get people out of poverty

Poverty and deprivation have a hugely negative impact on individuals and communities. This holds us back as a society.

Poverty rates are increasing, both in absolute and relative terms. Deep, entrenched poverty is also worsening.

Government policy can help address this. But alongside financial support, people also need a social safety net to get out of poverty.

A social safety net protects people from hardship. It’s based on partnership working between the local state, the community, businesses and charities.

We want the next government to:

  • introduce an essentials guarantee. This would ensure everyone can afford basic things like food and energy
  • strengthen Part 1 of the Equality Act. This requires public authorities to actively consider how their policies and decisions will increase or decrease inequalities
  • remove the social and economic barriers that make is difficult for people to volunteer. People from lower socio-economic backgrounds are significantly less likely to volunteer and have a good experience. Everyone should be able to benefit from the wellbeing, skills and satisfaction gained from volunteering.

Work with charities

Government should work in partnership with charities to ensure our economy is inclusive on a local and national level.

We want the next government to:

  • include charities in workforce planning
  • involve charities in developing approaches to employment, skills and learning support
  • collect data on the economic value of volunteering. Past estimates suggested volunteering generated around £20bn to the economy. This impact should be measured and accounted for
  • review and uplift the Approved Mileage Allowance Payment. This is used by charity employees and volunteers to carry out their duties. The rate of Mileage Allowance hasn’t changed since 2012 but motoring costs have increased 40% in this time.

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This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 18 October 2023