Sunday, 27 September, 2020
NEWSLETTERS Q3 2020
We believe that the best solutions are yet to be discovered and the best outcomes yet to be delivered. That is why we prepare organisations for change and help them implement it. We do this through an intimate understanding of their business, a relentless focus on delivery, the use of techniques that challenge the status quo and bridge traditional disciplines. We provide a range of services to public and private organisations including project and programme management, property consultancy, change management and strategy development and strategic advice. Contact us to discuss a project.
Sunday, 27 September, 2020
A special edition by guest writer, Managing Consultant Sandra Perez
WHAT WE’RE SEEING AND WHAT WE’VE BEEN UP TO
The pandemic has highlighted deep seated inequalities in the UK with profound and devastating focus. As many commentators have argued, Covid-19 has accelerated consumer trends, challenged conventions, and raised questions about the future of how and where we will live and work. Faced with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver the sort of lasting change and legacy that we’ve aspired to for years, we’re increasingly engaging with Councils to shift the narrative toward Inclusive Growth and the decisive, leading role of the public sector.
Inclusive growth involves not only harnessing the wealth – in all its shapes and sources – that is cultivated in our high streets and cities, but also investing in a balanced portfolio of investments that will drive us toward a more equitable economic democracy. The message we’re hearing, loud and clear, is we should not go back to the way things were. This is the time to renew rather than recover.
Whilst the UK government’s levelling up agenda goes some way to meeting this challenge, it has largely been defined as a promise to narrow the gap between London and the South East and the rest of the country, with varying degrees of success and fairness. Local economic growth policy is still discussed in terms of physical regeneration. This can be a valuable source of economic recovery and long-term growth but we’re enthused to see an increasing focus on investing in social infrastructure – including skills, early years and childcare, employment support, quality of housing, mental health and other community services. Investments in these vital services will help places build resiliency, weather economic storms, and emerge stronger. We are having exciting and encouraging conversations with Council’s across the country on the important role they needs to play as proactive enablers, investors and long-term guardians of resilience and inclusivity of the type we’ve seen in the last few months.
In one of our recent webinars on inclusive growth, we heard about the exciting possibilities of enabling change around future-focused ‘missions’ and thinking about investments with conditionality or socioeconomic redlines – ensuring that every investment spent comes with a good dose of social good. As we see resources emerge from central government – whether this is the Future High Street Fund, One Public Estate, the Land Regeneration Fund, or the recent announcement of £95 million to help nearly 70 historic high streets across England – now is the time to think how these limited resources could be used not only toward transformational capital interventions, but instead on building the capacity of the communities that will inhabit, benefit from, and contribute to the long-term legacy of our high streets and communities.
WHAT WE’RE LEARNNG AND WATCHING
This week, we invited east London-based charity Bow Arts to a virtual conversation with our team. We discussed the importance of supporting artists and cultural organisations, especially during these times, and the value that they add to places. Our conversation reminded me of an essay I read in one of my favourite books: Jane Jacobs’ Vital Little Plans. She advocates that the amenities of cities cannot be bought or planned wholesale. Rather, amenity (of the inclusive and lasting kind) “builds up from lots and lots of different bits and details, lots of different bits of money, lots of different notions, all coming out of the concern, the affection, and the ideas of lots and lots of different people”.
We were really inspired by the way in which Bow Arts have formed partnerships with public, private and community stakeholders to create great places from the ground up through culture and the arts, community engagement, and artist workspaces. They spoke about their experience of starting from a clear understanding of need in the local area and allowing the community to shape the offer and how the spaces are occupied. It was also great to hear and see how they’ve been working through lockdown to deliver engaging and inclusive interventions that strengthen and bring hope to their diverse communities.
WHAT’S GOING ON
Throughout the last few months, Councils have nimbly responded to the Covid-19 challenge by radically changing working arrangements, setting up Community Hubs in a matter of days, and continuing to safeguard their most vulnerable residents. In the last week alone, we’ve seen a new round of restrictions come into force including the mandate to only return to work if you cannot work from home, the launch of the NHS Covid-19 Track and Trace app which very quickly racked up over on million downloads and a new package of job-saving measures which intends to bolster struggling sectors of the economy and taking some lessons from Germany’s much lauded economic support packages.
At Inner Circle, our studios remain open and we are continuing to explore better ways of doing flexible working and using digital tools so that we can deliver from anywhere! We’ve become an almost 24-hour operation, with our consultants working from Toronto, London, and Hong Kong. It’s inspiring to see our team so committed to delivery and excellence.
We’re also happy to congratulate So Sum Lee, who has completed Inner Circle’s first ever graduate programme and is now a Consultant, and Gyula Torzok and Andrew Mistry who have been promoted to Senior Consultants.