• Opinion
  • November 26, 2018
  • 7 minutes
  • 1

The power of partnership: how the UK is building a more inclusive economy

Opinion: Some challenges can’t be solved by government, civil society or business alone

This piece was written by Shevaun Haviland, Deputy Director of Business Partnerships at the Cabinet Office and Head of Business Relations for the UK Prime Minister. For more like this, see our cross-sector collaboration newsfeed


I was delighted to join Gemma Corrigan from the World Economic Forum for an Apolitical Show and Tell on the role of inclusive partnerships in development and growth, and to share insights into some of the UK Government’s work in this space.

The UK Government is focused on building a more inclusive economy through collaboration with business and civil society. In my roles as Deputy Director for the Business Partnerships Team in the Cabinet Office and Head of Business Relations for the UK Prime Minister, I focus on creating partnerships between businesses and the Government to help deliver policy innovation and tackle some of our nation’s toughest challenges.

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One of our most innovative and exciting vehicles to do this is through the Inclusive Economy Partnership (IEP).

The IEP was set up in recognition of a simple truth: there are some challenges that can’t be solved by government, civil society or business alone. But by bringing the strengths of all three together and framing a new model for solving problems, we have developed real solutions across three crucial challenge areas in the UK: financial inclusion and capability, transition to work for young people and mental health at work.

There are some challenges that can’t be solved by government, civil society or business alone

Leveraging government’s ability to connect businesses’ resources and civil society’s expert knowledge and reach into local communities, we are having real impact on the ground and have seen tremendous success in just one year.

So what have we achieved so far?

We targeted seven civil society CEOs and seven business CEOs to convene a formidable advisory board of IEP Champions.

With their drive and direction, we have engaged over 250 organisations across businesses, civil society and government and formed three different work streams for each of the challenge areas.

We ran a six-month accelerator program with NESTA, the innovation foundation. We chose 18 social innovators committed to delivering tangible benefits to citizens who need their help most. As well as a £20,000 grant ($26,000), we curated introductions to the right organisations to get behind these innovators to grow and scale them.

As a direct result of this program, 100 new partnerships were formed

As a direct result of this program, 100 new partnerships were formed, ranging from mentoring to procurement. The social innovators have generated over £650,000 ($835,000) in grant funding and the total forecast revenue for them over the next twelve months is estimated at £3.2 million ($4.1m).

Most importantly, at least 50,000 additional people will now have access to services or tools across the three areas of financial inclusion, mental health at work and transition to work.

Alongside the accelerator program, we also launched four major “Big Idea” projects, bringing together an unprecedented number of organisations across different sectors. These projects include:

  • A challenge prize, supported by a £3 million ($3.85m) grant from Nationwide Building Society, set up to develop innovative digital solutions to help people struggling to make ends meet;
  • A pilot program in the West Midlands, with support from o2, Accenture, Movement to Work, UnLtd, Youth UK and WMCA, to help get more young people into work;
  • New Government standards and guidance to help companies take care of the mental well-being of their staff;
  • A cross-government project establishing an independent body to promote financial inclusion, which will be responsible for deploying an initial £55 million ($70m) of funding from dormant bank accounts, primarily to address the problem of access to affordable credit. 

The fact that this has been achieved during the first year is testament to the passion and commitment of the IEP members. This partnership works because it’s led by people, not process. People who care about the issues and are bringing knowledge, resources and perspectives of their organisation to the table.

What’s next?

We are ambitious to continue implementing real action on the ground, creating a national conversation and engaging more organisations throughout the UK, to showcase to the world that the UK is a global leader in inclusive growth.

As we enter phase 2, we are growing rapidly to make a difference to more people. We have demonstrated that there is power in partnership, and we’d love you to be part of the growing movement.

If you want to join the UK Government in fulfilling its aim of building a more inclusive economy and society, please get in touch with us at iep@cabinetoffice.gov.uk.

Let’s do more together.

(Picture credit; Unsplash)

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