Rebuild the local economy: prioritise labour-intensive sectors, difficult to automate, impossible to relocate abroad

Colin Hines, co-founder of LWM and convenor of the UK Green New Deal Group, comments on the Guardian’s recent editorial on productivity and robots which ‘repeated the cliché that automation does cost jobs, but more are created’.

He says that the problem with this is that the new jobs are frequently in different places from where they are lost and require very different skills, hence exacerbating the problems for the “left behind”.

Also unmentioned was that just as automation is starting to really bite, the world faces a strong possibility of another serious credit-induced economic downturn, from China to the UK and a perfect storm of domestic unemployment soaring and export markets falling, as happened after the 2008 economic slump.

The answer to these problems has to be a shift of emphasis to rebuilding the local economy by prioritising labour-intensive sectors that are difficult to automate and impossible to relocate abroad.

Two sectors are key:

  • face-to-face caring from medicine, education and elderly care
  • carbon-reducing national infrastructural renewal.

This should range from making the UK’s 30m buildings energy efficient, constructing new low-carbon dwellings and rebuilding local public transport links.

Funding could come from fairer taxes, local authority bonds in which all could invest, green ISAs and a massive new green infrastructure QE programme.

This approach should become central to all political parties, set out in their next election manifestos because “jobs in absolutely every constituency” is the crucial vote-winning mantra.



Birmingham Council: reducing fuel poverty and making the city cleaner and greener

News of further progress on the Green Deal front.  

In October the Construction Enquirer reported that Carillion Energy Services had been confirmed as preferred bidder by Birmingham City Council on a £600m retrofitting deal to improve energy efficiency for 60,000 homes.

The Birmingham Energy Savers scheme will see Carillion install energy efficiency measures like insulation and new boilers by 2020 in homes, schools and other council properties under this eight-year deal.

Under the Green Deal scheme, payment for improvements will be recovered in instalments through lower energy bills.

Carillion’s Chief Executive Richard Howson said: “Birmingham Energy Savers is a genuinely ground-breaking contract and we are delighted to be named as Birmingham City Council’s preferred delivery partner.

Energy minister Greg Barker’s comment: “Birmingham City Council is really taking the lead in reducing fuel poverty and making Birmingham cleaner and greener. The Green Deal will be a vital tool in helping the City reach its ambitious targets, allowing people to get energy efficient upgrades to their home and save money in the process. The funding we have given Birmingham will help kick-start the Green Deal and I’m excited by the Council’s plans to transform buildings and save energy.”

Dave Allport, Programme Manager for Birmingham Energy Savers, has now announced that on November 27th a ‘truly ground breaking’ contract between Birmingham City Council and Carillion Energy Services (CES) Ltd was signed, adding:

“This is a significant milestone in growing the green economy in Birmingham, tackling fuel poverty and reducing CO2 emissions”.

He thanked all those involved in developing bid documents, evaluating responses, engaging in dialogue, arranging stakeholder events, scoring submissions . . . adding the words of a senior legal partner:

“I’ve been involved in the procurement and development of over 80 public private partnership, but have never witnessed such a successful focus on building social values into the contract and a commitment from both parties to creating real local benefits”.



Birmingham Energy Savers – consultation event 6-7 Feb

Invitation letter from Birmigham City Council posted here for ease of reference.


January 2012

Dear Colleague

Re: Birmingham Energy Savers, Aim High, and Green Deal Consultation Event

Community and Transition Groups .

Birmingham Energy Savers (BES) is an award winning programme within Birmingham City Council which has so far fitted photovoltaic (PV) panels to the roofs of over 1,000 properties in order to reduce fuel poverty and CO² emissions.  It’s main purpose, however, is to establish the Birmingham Energy Savers – Green Deal programme.  Green Deal is a government led initiative (currently under consultation) which will enable households and businesses to install packages of energy saving technologies, e.g. insulation, at no upfront cost; making properties more fuel efficient straight away with repayments made over time from reduced energy bills.

We would like to invite you to an event at The Council House [Committee Rooms 3+4] Victoria Square, Birmingham, B1 1BB, on Monday 6th February 2012 9.30-11.30 am or Tuesday evening 7th February 7.00-9.00 pm to exploreand discuss issues that may influence the shape of BES and the Green Deal as we approach its projected launch in the Autumn of 2012.

We would like to share with you where we are in our planning and procurement process and discuss how you can be involved.  Topic discussions will include:

  • How we should market Green Deal in Birmingham to ensure maximum take-up;
  • How your organisation can support and promote the Green Deal in Birmingham – and derive benefits from doing so;
  • How Green Deal can help to address Fuel poverty;
  • How we can, together, overcome potential barriers to participation in disadvantaged communities;
  • How Green Deal can support other community initiatives.

We very much hope you [or a colleague] are able to attend and look forward to fruitful, constructive discussions on the day.

To secure a place, please send an email confirming your preferred session date, time and attendee(s) name to by Friday 27th January 2012.

Yours faithfully

Dave Allport

for the

Birmingham Energy Savers Team