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
- Refreshing and turbocharging the tourist offer
Significant progress is being made on projects such as zoning the town, testing a park-and-ride scheme and preparing a co-ordinated plan for the opening of the new Conference Centre in 2020
- The Fylde Coast Responsible Businesses Network – launched in October 2018 aims to encourage business to be the best they can be and to join with other businesses, bringing together their collective strength and to be a force for good in their community.
- The development of a town prospectus. Created in October 2018, the 2030 Agenda prospectus sets out the partnership’s vision and strategic objectives. The prospectus also invites national government to work together with the partnership to address long-term embedded challenges and to take advantage of opportunities.
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.