A framework to strengthen the social sector’s role in Manchester’s economy
Plant, Beth; Nolan, Adrian (2013)

Adrian Nolan, Centre for Local Economic Strategies,and Beth Plant, Macc

The issue

Traditional economic approaches by the public sector in Greater Manchester have failed, as was identified in the Manchester Independent Economic Review, particularly in raising the wellbeing of the poorest. We need an alternative model of growth but one of the critical unaddressed questions within this is how to conceptualise the role of the Voluntary and Community sector within economic frameworks.

There is still limited acknowledgement and understanding of the role of the VCS in public sector circles. This is partly because traditional economic theory still dominates thinking in public policy where the spheres of the social and environmental are treated as separate from the economic and growth is seen in narrow terms mainly as an increase in Gross Value Added (GVA). What is absent from these traditional frameworks is the role of the VCS both in the co-design of strategy and policy and a conceptualisation of the VCS that recognises its importance in driving growth by creating and supporting the conditions for economic growth and jobs in an area and as an employer and bringing in income.

The Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) is using its theory of place resilience to develop a new framework to understand and design economic policy, a theory based on the interaction between the “private”, “public” and “social” economy.

Development of a framework

CLES is working with Macc to develop an economic framework for Manchester that more fully conceptualises the role of the VCS the support the sector needs to economically develop and also demonstrates the links between VCS development of civil society and place as a cornerstone of sustainable economic growth.

The framework builds on the existing work of CLES around the theory of place resilience which has been extensively tested by CLES. This is based on academic thinking of a place as a ‘system’ which has gained ground in social and economic contexts, and has attracted significant attention across academia and policy (1, 2, 3)

This paper will present the findings of the research which is due to be completed in September and the methodological approach taken.


1. Andy Pikea, Stuart Dawleya and John Tomaney: Resilience, adaptation and adaptability. Cambridge Journal of Regions and Society, 2010

2. Adger, W.N. (2000) Social and ecological resistance: are they related? Progress in Human Geography

3. Walker, B et al (2006): resilience thinking: sustaining ecosystems and people on a changing world (Washington DC: Island Press)

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