West Yorkshire’s Council Leaders used a high-profile national conference in Bradford on Monday to launch an initiative that will drive inclusive growth across the Leeds City Region.
Job opportunities for thousands of local people, improved productivity, and an improved quality of life for everyone are among the key aims of the new Inclusive Growth Programme.
Under the auspices of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and working in partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the county’s five Councils and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) are joining up with a number of ‘anchor institutions’ that will be trailblazing inclusive growth.
Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Investment Committee and Leader of Bradford Council said: “Key Leeds City Region institutions such as local authorities, universities, colleges, hospitals and big businesses, collectively employ 200,000 people and control budgets worth £11 billion.
“By using the principles of inclusive growth to increase these organisations’ local procurement by just 10% would boost the City Region economy by over £200 million. And, adopting best practice on inclusive growth and working with vital ‘community anchor’ organisations, the overall impact will be felt throughout our communities.
“We took the opportunity of yesterday’s national Inclusive Growth conference in Bradford to launch this initiative as part of a longer-term programme to embed the idea across the Leeds City Region. And today’s publication of the Inclusive Growth Commission’s final report by the RSA reinforces our message.
“The report sets out a framework and recommendations for achieving inclusive growth including proposals for putting inclusive growth at the heart of public policy and finance.
“We want the initial, trailblazing organisations to spread this message and use best practice to develop further collaboration between anchor institutions to heighten the impact of inclusive growth and identify additional opportunities to develop it.”
Inclusive growth is not something just for large organisations, it is something on which organisations of all sectors and sizes can have an impact.
Leeds City Region has a rich tapestry of smaller vitally important ‘community anchor’ organisations, operating in and fundamental to the communities in which they are based. ‘Community anchors’ champion local issues, provide vital services, act as hubs of activity and supporting communities and the people in them by tackling isolation and loneliness, building cohesion and providing facilities for children to learn and play.
Another key aim of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority-led initiative will be to build connections between the large ‘anchor institutions’ and the ‘community anchors’. This will maximise the impact of inclusive growth on local neighbourhoods and disadvantaged communities.
Future plans for the initiative include recruiting large local businesses, sharing good practice and facilitating business to business conversations. The Inclusive Growth Programme will include work to support businesses and raise productivity by getting the best out of people.
Cllr Hinchcliffe added:
“West Yorkshire Combined Authority showed its commitment to Inclusive Growth as long ago as March 2015, when Leaders signed up to a low pay charter to support its members’ lower paid workers
“By accelerating work to connect the City Region’s ‘anchor institutions’ to communities this initiative will help all the organisations and businesses involved - large and small - to meet their own goals as well as enhancing the positive impact on local people through opportunities for business growth and new, secure jobs.
“These impacts will improve the quality of life and reduce poverty for thousands of local people.”