“Why don’t they ask us?” The role of communities in levelling up

This report by the Institute for Community Studies reveals that current approaches to regeneration and economic transformation are not working for the majority of local communities and their economies.

Its key findings are that:

  • Interventions have consistently failed to address the most deprived communities, contributing to a 0% average change in the relative spatial deprivation of the most deprived local authorities areas;

  • The majority of ‘macro funds’ and economic interventions over the last two decades have not involved communities in a meaningful nor sustainable way;

  • The focus of interventions to build local economic resilience typically concentrate on a relatively small number of approaches, which risks missing crucial dimensions of local need, opportunity and agency, and reinforcing gaps between the national and the hyper-local;

  • Interventions have tended to concentrate on ‘between-place’ spatial disparities in economic growth at the expense of ‘within-place’ inequalities that exist inside local authority boundaries, which is where the economic strength or weakness of a place is most keenly felt by communities.

  • Where funds and interventions have had higher levels of community involvement, these have typically been disconnected from the structures where decisions are taken, undermining their aim of building community power into local economic solutions.