Report

Vibrant Economy Index: Building a better economy

Places are complex and have an intrinsic impact on the people and businesses within them. Economic growth doesn’t influence all of the elements that are important to people’s lives – so we shouldn’t use GDP to measure success.

We set out to create another measure for understanding what makes a place successful. Our Vibrant Economy Index uses data to provide a robust, independent framework to help everyone understand the challenges and opportunities in their local areas. We want to start a debate about what type of economy we want to build in the UK and spark collaboration between citizens, businesses and place-shapers to make their places thrive.

Download the Vibrant Economy Index: Advancing the vibrant economy debate report to help frame future discussions, stimulate action and drive change locally

Hear from Karl Eddy about why we created the Vibrant Economy Index

Consider your purpose

We know that purpose-led organisations drive better profits so we want them to consider their role as a local employer while actively supporting place-shaping. We also need private sector organisations to collaborate with other private, public and third sector organisations. The Vibrant Economy Index is a great tool for business leaders to engage with their people (employees and citizens) and share ideas about their areas.

The bigger picture

In total, we look at 324 English local authority areas, taking into account not only economic prosperity but health and happiness, inclusion and equality, environmental resilience, community and dynamism and opportunity. Highlights of the index include:

  • Traditional measures of success – gross value added (GVA), average workplace earning and employment do not correlate in any significant way with the other baskets. This is particularly apparent in cities, which despite significant economic strengths are often characterised by substantial deprivation and low aspiration, high numbers of long-term unemployment and high numbers of benefit claimants
  • The importance of the relationships between different places and the subsequent role of infrastructure in connecting places and facilitating choice. The reality is that patterns of travel for work, study and leisure don’t reflect administrative boundaries. Patterns emerge where prosperous and dynamic areas are surrounded by more inclusive and healthy and happy places, as people choose where they live and travel to work in prosperous areas.
  • The challenges facing leaders across the public, private and third sector in how to support those places that perform less well. No one organisation can address this on their own. Collaboration is key.

Implications for the private, public and third sector

Sarah Bell outlines the business case for social value and why knowing your community is good business. In our guest articles Nick Roberts, President of SNC-Lavalin's Engineering, Design and Project Management sector, gives a global perspective on local places, while Will Butler-Adams, CEO of Brompton Bicycle, shares his view on the implications of the index for business transparency and small and medium-sized enterprises. The York and Wigan place stories focus on creating shared visions that engage businesses, the third sector and local citizens.

Martin Ellender talks about how local leaders can articulate what a vibrant economy means to their areas as part of a reinvention of local government. The place stories for Sheffield, with the greatest change in ranking over five years, and Cotswold with its balanced scorecard, look at the different challenges the local authorities face in delivering the benefits of economic and social wellbeing to everyone within their communities.

Vibrant economy index
A new way to measure economic success Request the report
Interactive map Vibrant economy index Discover how your area performs with our interactive map

Contact us

To find out more, or to discuss the Vibrant Economy Index report in more detail, please contact Rob Turner, Karl Eddy or Paul Dossett.