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Local Trust, a place-based funder delivering the Big Local programme, has released its latest policy report, calling for the next government to focus on hyper-local solutions to tackle entrenched inequalities and stimulate economic growth – with the most deprived communities experiencing a total productivity gap of an estimated £124.1 billion. 

The report, Why the next government should focus on neighbourhoods, presents compelling evidence on the efficacy of neighbourhood-level interventions in addressing disparities within regions and improving overall quality of life.   

The report identifies three primary reasons why a neighbourhood focused approach is essential: 

  1. Targeting disparities within regions: Hyper local solutions allow policymakers to address disparities within regions, not just between them. Inequalities at the neighbourhood level are substantial and increasing, impeding both local and national economic growth. 
  2. Beyond city centres: Traditional regeneration efforts have concentrated on urban centres, leaving suburban areas and housings estates on the periphery of towns and cities neglected. By focusing on these neighbourhoods, policies can reach the communities that need support the most. 
  3. Proven effectiveness of neighbourhood interventions: Historical and recent evidence shows that neighbourhood level interventions are more effective and improve outcomes for residents across multiple indicators including education, employment and health.  

The benefits of focusing on a neighbourhood approach, include:  

  • Economic growth: Community led economic development harnesses local resources and engages residents in the process, ensuring inclusive and sustained economic growth. The report cites successful examples like the Big Local programme, where communities have used funding to support local businesses, improve skills and create jobs. 
  • Resilient communities: Neighbourhoods with strong social infrastructure are better equipped to handle crises, from natural disasters to public health emergencies. The report emphasises the importance of building local capacity and fostering community cohesion to enhance resilience. 
  • Easing demand on public services: Addressing the root causes of social issues at the neighbourhood level can reduce the burden on public services. The report highlights how neighbourhood based preventative health measures and social care initiatives can lead to significant cost savings and better health outcomes. 

Local Trust is calling on the next government to implement a national strategy for neighbourhoods, focusing on the 225 most disadvantaged areas in England. These areas face the double disadvantage of high deprivation and a lack of social infrastructure, making them the optimal target for investment and support.  

Read the report