Frontier Economics was recently commissioned by Local Trust to provide an independent and robust assessment of the economic basis for investment in community-led social infrastructure in ‘left behind’ areas, pulling together existing evidence to quantify the scale of the economic, social and fiscal returns from these investments.
‘Levelling up’ is high on the current political agenda and the Covid-19 pandemic has further emphasised the role that social infrastructure can play in supporting local communities. Our report reveals that for every £1m invested, there are likely to be economic and fiscal returns worth £3.2m, including a £0.7m boost in employment, training and skills opportunities for local residents.
The scale of the potential opportunity is large. Targeted investment in community-led social infrastructure has the scope to improve outcomes in ‘left behind’ areas with knock on benefits for the economy. For example, compared to the national average, ‘left behind’ areas have over 13% more working age people without qualifications and 15% fewer with NVQ4 equivalent qualifications or above. They also have a higher proportion of the economically inactive population who want a job, and this is highest in the most left behind areas.
Like almost every area where government looks to invest, the evidence base is far from perfect. Drawing on the most robust evidence and conservative assumptions, our work was only able to quantify some of the potential impacts of community led social infrastructure investment. The Community Wealth Fund could present a perfect opportunity to enrich that evidence base through continued monitoring and evaluation.
You can read the full report here.
Frontier regularly advises on social policy issues. You can read related articles below here:
Unlocking productivity growth in rural areas.
Levelling up: getting it done.
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