Aspen Institute UK recently convened a discussion on inclusive growth in Bristol with our partners at the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.
Building inclusive growth – that is, growth that benefits the whole local community – in the UK is an ongoing challenge and we were delighted to convene local business leaders, entrepreneurs and community advocates to address this topic.
The Aspen Institute in the UK has proven experience of delivering tailored Partner Dialogues in collaboration with different organisations. We draw together the most apposite voices to engage in moderated conversations on complex issues that need resolving.
Our experience in Bristol was no different and the group offered a range of insights into the challenges and opportunities facing those living in the city. Our CEO, Penny Richards, reflects on the key themes of the discussion.
What makes Bristol stand out among UK cities, and what special challenges and opportunities does that represent?
Bristol has a great reputation in the UK as a liveable city and has made a name for itself in recent years as a hub for small businesses and inward investment. While this image has brought the city a lot of opportunities, participants at our roundtable discussion were concerned that members of some communities were being left behind and not seeing the benefit of this growth.
“Bristol is a tale of two cities,” one participant said, “People are resorting to living in tents and vans” rather than relying on traditional housing. They felt that while the local economy is growing – with a GDP of £18 billion – inequality is also worsening.
Overall, the participants who joined us believed the economy would continue to prosper, but they were determined to make sure this growth extended to all those living in the city.
What success stories did you hear at the roundtable?
Bristol has a strong social sector, which is working to improve the lives of all those living in the city. Many local businesses are also invested in the future of the city and looking to collaborate to help its communities. One good example of this is a café chain based in the city recently set up a donation point to encourage its customers to support local projects.
Is there anything that seems unsolvable at the moment? What’s the most vexing problem participants are facing going forward?
As Bristol attracts workers away from London and other parts of the UK, the price of land and property is rising, affecting both housing and commercial property prices and making it difficult for people to afford to live or run a small business in the city. Linked to that is the issue of the inequality that exists within the city. While not unsolvable, participants agreed that Bristol needs to do more to promote inclusive growth that everyone in the local communities can benefit from.
One participant shared how “People and communities can do more to foster a sense of agency and accountability for everyone in that place”. They thought that more intentionality with investment and long-term planning could help people make Bristol better.
To read the full Q&A, head over to this link.
Thanks to the Aspen Partnership for Inclusive Economy for collaborating with us to share our work on global inclusive economic growth.
To find out more about Aspen UK Partner Dialogues, please contact Rebecca Sells, Director of Public Engagement at Aspen UK, at [email protected].