Levelling Up – is it for our economy or our society?

Guest post by Philip Webb, Investors In Community.

Political leaders are currently pushing the message of “Levelling Up”, our economy. For too long, they say, the divide between the South of England, and the rest of the UK has deteriorated and widened.

Quite right too, that the distribution of infrastructure and government spending needs to be allotted fairly across the regions and the population.

However, I cannot help but feel sceptical.

Nothing to do with politics, or the government in power, this is to do with the strategy of focusing on the economy.

All well and good to build some new roads and rail connections, improve bus routes, high-speed broadband, and relocate some government departments out of London to the chilly north.

But what I am concerned about is the people themselves, and the society in which we live.

Governments of any political persuasion cannot reach the person in the street, as their influence and effect is designed to engage down to the regional levels, and is then taken up by other organisations, such as Councils, support groups, charities and communities themselves.

Levelling up individuals, not organisations

If I am an elderly person, living alone, and declare – “I feel so lonely, what is the government going to do about it” then the answer is nothing. At a community level however, there are many support options, headed by council services, social and care organisations, and charities.

During the pandemic, we were able to literally see into the living rooms and personal lives of our teams, our customers, and our suppliers. It formed a new understanding, based on being human, and not simply a contract.

This phenomenon continues, post covid, as video conferencing is now the normal. The lack of enthusiasm for a full return to the office, and the demands for flexible working arrangements add to the mix, and we see the community in which we live, with greater clarity than ever before.

In the latest Levelling Up paper, published in early February, there is recognition that the charity sector must be involved in the agenda to deliver.

But more than that, at local level, there needs to be a new partnership, one between the people, the businesses, and the charities. Through this tri-party approach, significant and specific local change can be brought to bear, upon the communities that need help, with those who can provide help.

In the New World that is now emerging from the global ravages of pandemic, the social norms reset, and the need to connect with others, this is the perfect time to examine an approach that will deliver a sustainable partnership between the stakeholders in our society

The rise of social value

Social Value was born as a term in 2020/21, and espouses the many things that a business and a person does, to project themselves beyond simple monetary gain.

Profit and Purpose has now become a journey for businesses of all sizes, to remain relevance to consumers, staff, investors, and supply chains. This is no longer a “nice to have”, it has become a “must have”. Where profit and purpose co-exist, a wonderful new term is applied, to describe the

business as a “Zebra” business. The black and white stripes denote the profit/purpose approach, and creates a sustainable and more robust business

But what of measurement?

With commercial identity being applied to Social Value, supply chains, tenders, and proposals, now all require commentary about the applicant social value, which leads to contract awards and financial gain.

Measuring social value

So the auditable measurement of social value is critical if the three way partnerships are to have any validity, above that of being a nice story.

At Investors In Community a platform exists to bring the stakeholders together, in a verified measurement system, with a live market place of needs, and transparency with both givers and receivers.

It is essential to embrace the concept of community outreach, in order to participate in the product and services markets of 2022 onwards. But more than that it is critical that everyone understands that levelling up, not just of the economy, but more so of Society, will drive fairness and participation, to provide a place where humankind can be human.

To avoid significant social unrest in the years ahead, a new contract with the people is needed, one that recognises that joining up the silos of society is the only way to create a harmonious existence, and providing the whole population with opportunity to help with the real levelling up that our society needs.

Find out more about Investors in Community.

Philip Webb will be speaking on the Accountants Helping Accountants webinar on Thursday 14th July, discussing the critical role of accountants in social value reporting. He will be joined by David Rothera of NetZeroNow who will be looking at the benefits of becoming a sustainable business – for both you and your clients. Register for the webinar here.