Blog: What does an inclusive economy look like?

Written by Beth Sharratt, Policy & Research Manager at GMCVO 

In a recent blog post, I wrote about the term ‘inclusive economy’, and what this means. In this blog, I will explore in more detail what an inclusive economy looks like, and the types of organisations and activity that contribute to it. Going beyond the concept of an inclusive economy to understand what alternative options exist that challenge the economic status quo, and what they look like for normal people in their day-to-day lives. As I mentioned in my last blog, this status quo contributes to the stark inequalities that the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector seeks to address, the reason much of the sector exists.

As we get deeper and deeper into a cost of living crisis, the mainstream economic models we have come to accept as ‘business as usual’ are showing their weaknesses. Many are asking why, when the economy is failing, is it those who are most vulnerable who are feeling the effects the most? What does this say about our values as a society?

Many inclusive economy approaches have been created to counter the negative impact of the mainstream stuff we have become used to. The picture below demonstrates this. The ‘clouds’ are part of all of our lives, the things in the umbrella protect or guard against the damage caused by ‘rain’.

During the economic good times these ideas may seem superfluous – particularly to those who aren’t exposed to the very real challenges that marginalised communities face. However, as the current crisis begins to bite in a post-Covid and post-Brexit UK, these ideas don’t seem so radical. We now need even more ways of working that have building resilience and protecting communities – not returns to shareholders – at their core.

What all of the organisations working to create a more inclusive have at their heart is putting people in charge of the decisions that affect their lives. From July 4th – 8th, we will be celebrating Communities in Control across Greater Manchester. We have invited community groups and organisations to take the opportunity to talk to a wide range of stakeholders about what they do and why it is part of an inclusive economy. Following the week, we will be building a portfolio of VCSE activity that contributes to an inclusive economy. This will be an important tool in ongoing conversations about the involvement of the VCSE sector in the delivery of the Greater Manchester Strategy, including its role in the shared prosperity fund. During August, we’ll be supporting the VCSE sector to get involved in conversations about the implementation of the shared prosperity fund in GM.

Here are some examples of organisations working to create a more inclusive economy and where you can go to find out more, including some of the events taking place July 4th-8th: 

Mainstream economic models

Inclusive economy alternatives

Example/s and events

Developer-led regeneration

Resident-led spatial planning prioritises the needs of local residents when decisions are being made about their area. 

Firs Community Benefit Society

Event - Local engagement for community facility planning 

Greater Manchester Community Led Homes

Event: Community Ownership in Action 

High street banking

Credit unions are financial co-operatives which provides savings, loans and a range of services to its members. It is owned and controlled by its’ members.

Greater Manchester Credit Unions

Casual, insecure jobs at minimum wage

Membership of an employee-owned cooperative gives individuals a stake in and power over their working terms and conditions as well as how the business operates.

Inclusive employment approaches tackle inequality by supporting those facing barriers to employment.

Good Employment Charter members offer the Real Living Wage and flexibility.

Middleton Cooperating  - attracts and help new co-operatives and social businesses to grow in Middleton, employing local people and offering services that improve lives

Yes Manchester - supports people into work in North Manchester

Event: Inclusive Employment - Good for Business, Good for Communities 

Greater Manchester’s Hidden Talent - a youth employment programme working with young people aged 16 – 24, supporting hidden young people to progress towards employment and improve their self-esteem and wellbeing. Hidden young people are not in employment, education or training and not claiming any benefits.

Extractive business models removing money and resources from neighbourhoods

Social Enterprises are businesses who like traditional businesses aim to make a profit, but they reinvest these profits within their community.

Community wealth building  is a model that transforms local economies based on communities having direct ownership and control of their assets. 

Sawa BBQ - a Social Enterprise Catering Business which originated through Dynamic Support – an organisation bringing together BME women and their families across Greater Manchester to support their well-being.
Manchester Urban Diggers - urban community market gardeners based in Greater Manchester making spaces for people to grow food. We provide a network of hyper local, organically grown fresh produce to the local communities.

Event: Market Garden tour & lunch

Event: Launch of the Bolton and Stockport Proper Good Social Enterprise support programmes

Event: Greater Manchester community wealth building hub co-design 

Environmentally exploitative practices 

Just transition/net zero – ways of working that minimise carbon production and negative impacts on the physical environment 

Carbon Co-op - an energy services and advocacy co-operative that helps people and communities to make the radical reductions in home carbon emissions necessary to avoid runaway climate change.

Wouldn’t it be great if we can enable more of this kind of economic activity? That’s a big part of GMCVO’s mission, and a commitment under the VCSE Accord


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