A STRONG BUSINESS-LED APPROACH TO BUILDING
TRUST BETWEEN BUSINESS AND SOCIETY
The UK economy depends on towns and cities harnessing the potential of every man and woman who lives in them. Our towns and cities have always been at the heart of economic development and the creation of prosperity whether as marketplaces or as centres of enterprise, knowledge, culture, learning and innovation. However, the forces changing the way we live work and learn today, exacerbated by the advances in digital technology, are leaving too many communities behind. There is an unacceptable gap between those who are benefitting from the changes and those who are not. This is creating a fracture in society and a breakdown in trust between business and society which demands a strong business-led response.
Place is a response by business to take ownership of this problem and Business in the Community (BITC) is uniquely placed to bring the various stakeholders together to make it happen.
Pilot activity under way across the UK
Pilot activity in Blackpool
- Town Deal – The Pride of Place partnership is working to secure a strategic ‘Town Deal’ for Blackpool, to tackle deprivation and to develop the economy. Paul Smith is Chairing the Towns Fund Board, which is submitting its Town Investment Plan to Government in July.
- Born and Bred Network – The Pride of Place partnership has created a Born and Bred network of alumni. These Ambassadors were born or raised in Blackpool, or just have a special interest in the area. This network helps us to persuade and influence national bodies and restore pride in what is the UK’s most famous seaside resort.
- Claremont –The Pride of Place has taken a ‘ground up’ community focus in the Claremont Ward of Blackpool. Claremont forms around a quarter of Blackpool’s inner area and suffers from intense deprivation, facing challenges of high rates of unemployment and crime combined with poor health outcomes and low average household incomes.
The last two years has seen the development of a strong Claremont team of community residents, public service agencies, business leaders, civil society organisations, young people and council representatives meeting regularly to tackle these issues.
- Prince’s 7 for 70 Projects – The Pride of Place is supporting this project, which is one of seven across the UK undertaken by The Prince’s Foundation to coincide with HRH Prince Charles’s 70th birthday in 2018, in a campaign known as 7 for 70. The Fleetwood Trust purchased the largely-vacant former hospital building in 2018 and is now developing a vibrant, sustainable venue for much-needed services and support. The vision includes facilities and flexible spaces for partners from the health care and voluntary sectors working within the Town to support residents’ wellbeing.
- Trans-Atlantic Connectivity – The Blackpool Pride of Place partnership is helping to create a ‘Digital strategy’ to improve the socio-economic outcomes for Blackpool and to create better lives. The Trans-Atlantic Cable, which connects Blackpool to New York faster than London, will bring economic opportunities to the town. The cable will be an important component of Blackpool’s digital infrastructure.
- Responsible Business Network – The Fylde Coast Responsible Business Network (RBN) is a group of businesses committed to supporting the local community. It is already making a difference and has created a thriving network of local businesses to share insight, expertise and knowledge of how to best support the community. Its key campaigns are; helping young people prepare for the world of work, and supporting those farthest from employment, back into work.
Pilot activity in Wisbech
The Wisbech 2020 Vision was borne out of discussions between the political leaders of Fenland District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council, along with the MP for North East Cambridgeshire. All agreed that the challenges Wisbech faced were greater than those elsewhere in their constituencies. Public bodies and private sector partners needed to think differently about what to do united by ‘a passion to deliver a prosperous future’. Formally launched in 2013 and reviewed in 2017, The Vision focuses on education and skills, health and wellbeing and cohesion, infrastructure and built environment and the local economy.
A programme of work is now under way with the long-term ambition to improve transport, build local skills, increase tourism and boost retail, create new jobs and more homes.
Place and the digital responsible business agenda
Our Brave New World report showed that digital technologies have the opportunity to support communities traditionally left behind. This could be done by harnessing data to better understand the local population, their challenges and opportunities, increasing the connectivity between communities and increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of key services such as transport and education.
However, there is a risk that this digital revolution will consolidate power and wealth in areas already more advantaged while many of the 6.2 million people without the basic skills to regularly use the internet will be isolated from major towns and cities.
BITC’s Responsible Digital Business programme seeks to work with organisations to ensure that this digital transformation is ethical, sustainable and inclusive and that their innovations are developed in recognition of these challenges.