Investment Zones (IZs) are the latest iteration in a long history of area-based initiatives aimed at driving economic development and redressing the persistent inter and intraregional inequalities in the UK.
The Spring Budget 2023 announced that Government will negotiate eight IZs in England, including six IGN member places, and four more in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Combined authorities are rapidly working to develop their IZ propositions and move to implementation.
The Government’s policy does not explicitly seek inclusive growth outcomes nor is it implicit that IZs will lead to inclusive growth. This needs to be embedded in their design, delivery and operation.
This learning in action briefing provides practical guidance to support officers to embed inclusive growth in IZs across eight areas:
- Flexible spend and tax incentives – use upfront flexible spend and long-term business rate retention to invest in interventions that create positive inclusive growth impact.
- Collaborative governance – support deep partnerships that enable the work of partners to be more than the sum of its parts.
- Community engagement – empower local communities to have agency in the design and development of IZs.
- Connectivity and placemaking – embed IZs in places through accessibility, connectivity and targeting of employment opportunities.
- Inclusive innovation – put inclusive innovation principles at the heart of the design, development, delivery and operation of a major innovation asset.
- Skills – design IZs as a gateway for skills, training, employment development and progression in new growth industries.
- Local supply chain development and business support – open up contracting opportunities to a range of businesses, provide space for firms, and diversify entrepreneurship.
- Just transition – design and deliver IZs in a way that supports decarbonisation and resilience, and encourage innovation that supports disadvantaged groups with net zero transition
We recommend that IZ officer leads work closely with local authority inclusive growth officers as well as colleagues across the Inclusive Growth Network and continue to seek opportunities to embed inclusive growth priorities.