Recommendations from ESRC researchers boosted regeneration in Enfield Borough, with strategic business partnerships leading to large investments and several hundred jobs.

Impacts

  • Enfield Borough's changes in policy and strategic direction led to two new job creation partnerships:
    • British Gas refurbishment contracts for domestic insulation (including local construction companies in the supply chain; plans for British Gas to hire 100 Enfield school-leavers and train job seekers through two local colleges)
    • Thames Water investment in the modernised Lee Valley sewage treatment plant with link-initiatives to boost local recruitment and retain jobs.
  • Negotiations with utility companies led to British Gas providing over £10 million for social housing insulation upgrades in Enfield.
  • A new insulation manufacturing operation starting up in the borough, creating 50 manufacturing jobs and a further 250 posts for installation professionals.
  • Agreement to a five-year schedule of work with Thames Water to help the council support the involvement of local contractors and provide skills training.
  • A portion of local authority pension funds was re-invested into social housing in North London boroughs to address chronic housing shortages – at the same time stimulating local construction employment.
  • The New Directions job generation scheme is estimated to have created or protected nearly 150 local jobs.

    “In the two areas where we have made most progress with job creation in the short run, CRESC was crucial because their researchers made policy suggestions which officers and councillors followed up. It was CRESC which initially suggested that we press utilities to localise their corporate social responsibility, and the end result is several hundred jobs anchored by a £10 million contract with British Gas.” (Rob Leak, Enfield Council CEO)

    About the research

    Following a well-publicised 2009 working paper from the ESRC Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC) on economic regeneration, the London Borough of Enfield approached CRESC to help formulate ideas for revitalising the borough's economy. After a period of research, 18 recommendations were made by researchers in 2011 for significant strategic and policy changes.

    Traditionally, regeneration strategy has focused on enhancing local competiveness with training programmes and infrastructure improvements to attract investment. CRESC research instead points to applying an alternative business model that focuses on re-localisation and greater entrepreneurship within the community.

    The CRESC analysis led to a change in focus for economic regeneration which could start to address rising economic (and social) imbalances arising from de-industrialisation in the borough.

    Working with CRESC, Enfield Council persuaded major employers (eg utility companies) to use local businesses and workers to benefit the local economy. The council also took a leadership role in renewal projects, including alleviating housing shortages by reassigning a portion of its local authority pension funds into building homes. Instead of funding B&B accommodation for the homeless, the council invested in emergency housing.

    Enfield Council has also backed Building BloQs, a workshop facility providing premises and resources for small professional businesses. In January 2016, Building BloQs was awarded a match-funding grant of £1.35 million from the London Regeneration Fund – enabling expansion into becoming the largest open access workshop in Europe.