In September last year, the Cooperative Councils Innovation Network (CCIN) with the support of the RSA launched a policy commission on community resilience, jobs and growth. Their aim was to analyse the available material on innovation and impact in local economies, and develop a creative policy approach that would help to increase the effectiveness of state spending on employment support.
The result of this research was put together in a report called “Unlocking our Wealth“. This report presents examples of councils across the UK working to develop the hidden wealth of their local communities. It also identifies cooperation as a successful approach to local wealth creation. It is stated in the report that a “cooperative approach, based on firm partnership with business and individuals, could help more workless people into jobs, at lower cost, increase small business growth to create thousands of new jobs, and significantly increase private sector investment in employment and skills”.
The CCIN believes that governments have a number of ways in which they can help to improve the life of the poor living under their authority. The local governments have even more power because they have a closer relationship with the community. The public sector should:
- (a) give support and relevant guidance for those with disabilities to get work,
- (b) create networks by engaging businesses leaders in driving local growth, and
- (c) encourage school-employer collaboration thus, students can gain experience of real work and understand future jobs.
Moreover, private local businesses also should support the cooperative approach. Local business owners have to support local commitment by paying a fair wage and investing in people’s skills. They have to create opportunities for young people to experience working in professional environments, thus they can develop their confidence and networks.
We realised that, Kent County Council, a member of the ILF Networking Group, has already put this into practice. In September 2014 they organised an Innovation Day, where Kent residents were invited to engage with each other to create business ideas that would improve their local community. Teams worked together with designers and developers to improve and prototype their business ideas and then presented them to a panel of judges for a chance to win support to take them forward. Rather than just a lump sum, the winners got a whole package of support worth £20,000 that will help them make their idea reality. The winner: MyCycle-Kent, is an app that connects less confident cyclists with experienced riders, and novice cyclists with similarly intrepid locals for bike rides around Canterbury and Kent.
All the recommendations present in the report operate primarily at the level of principle. A “one-size-fits-all” approach would not allow cooperative solutions to be developed respecting the locality´s specific needs.
To read the full report please click here.