Localise West Midlands has been working with New Economics Foundation, New Start and local partners on some research into how social care has the potential to become a driver of the West Midlands economy. This report has now been published.
The report, Social Care as a Local Economic Solution in the West Midlands, proposes that rather than social care being viewed solely as a problem, policy changes at Combined Authority level could harness the potential of social care to generate inclusive prosperity across the region.
Re-framing of the sector away from large-scale providers towards community and cooperative care models could transform the sector, creating high quality careers, living wage, and improving standards of care across the region. Moving towards such a model can redirect the third of spend that goes to big providers’ shareholders into care quality and wages. It calls for the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to prioritise new models of care and establish a community care innovation unit.
This re-framing of social care models a new approach to local economics, one that is aligned with the assets and needs of communities rather than focused narrowly on economic growth and inward investment. This ‘foundational’ approach to local economies could be extended to other sectors such as housing, food and utilities.
The report was written by Dave Powell at New Economics Foundation as part of the Good City Economies programme in which LWM is a partner. LWM’s work in this was funded by Barrow Cadbury Trust. It was scoped and refined by a group of organisations active in the region on inclusive economics and social care.
This approach resonates with West Midlands mayor Andy Street’s calls for greater diversity in the provision of all public services and enthusiasm for mutual models, as well as with the Combined Authority’s aims of ‘inclusive growth.’
LWM will be working on taking progress not only this work on social care but the wider possibilities of a focus on the ‘foundational’ economy and a fully integrated approach to inclusive prosperity.