One of my priorities as Leader of Kirklees Council is to help create the conditions for a more inclusive local economy.
Why? Because a more inclusive economy is one that better supports people to achieve their aspirations, no matter their background or circumstances.
It’s one where our partners, especially large public and private sector ‘anchor’ institutions, are proud to support local aspirations, and where smaller businesses and community groups are not disadvantaged because of their size.
In Kirklees, an inclusive economy means recognising that each place has a distinct set of stakeholders, networks and assets that helps make that place what it is – and that one size does not fit all.
Over the past two years, we’ve started to move away from thinking in service silos towards people-focused, place-based thinking, looking at how the whole system of council services shapes the local economy and helps tackle and prevent poverty.
We’re focusing more on working with people than ‘doing to’ them. But we don’t start with a blank sheet.
We’re building on initiatives such as the Kirklees Living Wage, an investment of more than £1.4 million in our lowest-paid staff; and our Better Off Kirklees campaign, bringing an additional £41 million of welfare payments to some of our most vulnerable residents.
For Kirklees, ‘keeping it local’ is about ensuring the local economy supports local people, partners and places – with a special focus on the most vulnerable and those who are one pay packet away from poverty.
Our key workstreams centre on procurement, employment, assets, and tackling poverty. We are building an inclusive economy by increasing investment in the local economy through local and responsible suppliers that deliver social value for people in Kirklees.
We are ambitious about maximising the impact of our spend by spending more locally and helping non-local suppliers to create good local work and support local communities.
We are ensuring that our employment and recruitment practices and policies are inclusive, recognising that our diversity is our strength in Kirklees. We are working across our services to make our land and assets more accessible to communities, with more support than ever for community asset transfers. And we’re working to ensure this benefits some of our most disadvantaged residents.
The principles of Locality’s Keep it Local campaign really capture our approach to building a more inclusive Kirklees. We are focusing on early intervention by building new people-focused, place-based, local integrated partnerships to tackle poverty and social isolation, and to build community capacity from the grassroots. We’re building a simpler, yet more diverse, local care market through support for micro-enterprises and investing in a new, local, adult social care cooperative.
I’m ambitious for Kirklees, for its people and for our partners. We’re delighted to be joining the Keep it Local network (see panel), so we can forge a new direction in the way we shape our local economies and learn from other councils on the same path.
Keeping it local
Keep it Local is the campaign being run by Locality – the national network supporting community organisations to be strong and successful.
The Keep it Local network is a growing group of councils committed to building partnerships between local places and communities in preference to large-scale outsourcing of services.
Councils in the network are learning from one another and sharing successes. Each member council has endorsed the campaign’s principles, appointed senior political and officer champions, and committed to working with Locality to assess and improve current practice.