Plugging the Leaks: Making the most of every pound that enters your local economy

New Economics Foundation

Author +
Bernie Ward and Julie Lewis

Year: 2002

This handbook is for you if you are worried about your local economy. The chances are, it’s not thriving and you are beginning to wonder if the usual approaches to economic development are really working. In fact certain previously strong aspects of your economy might be unravelling before your eyes. The experts don’t seem to be able to make a success of it, so you’re beginning to think that the locals should be getting involved too – and that means you. This handbook shows you how to devise a new economic strategy for your community – from scratch.

Download Plugging the Leaks: Making the most of every pound that enters your local economy

The approach will particularly fit your needs if you want a simple but tried and tested guide for ordinary people to understand what is going on in their local economy – so they can be involved in decision-making. And this handbook is not one for flicking through and shelving. The New Economics Foundation (NEF) wants to make sure that talk leads to action. That’s why they have worked with communities large and small, urban and rural, from all parts of the UK, to make sure that the Plugging the Leaks approach actually works.

From Pembrokeshire and Derwent to Keyham and Hastings; from churches in the West Midlands to environmentalists in Northern Ireland; from the Leeds Industrial Mission to Aberdeen City Council; from Leamington’s SRB partnership to Luton’s New Deal for Communities; and from a local food initiative in West Dorset to a tourism programme in the Brecon Beacons; this approach to local economic development has been tried and tested.

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Table of Contents


1: Introduction

Why the usual approaches to economic development aren’t working
Leaving it to chance
Don’t rely on the experts
Economics made easy
The leaky bucket
Enough talk, what about some action?

2: Understanding the local economy
The leaky bucket
The circulating pound
Let’s go round again
The local multiplier effect
Funnels and umbrellas
Spending circles

3: A step–by–step guide to Plugging the Leaks
Getting started
Holding the workshop
Session 1 Introductions
Session 2 Exploring the leaky bucket
Session 3 Examining other ideas
Session 4 Planning leak–plugging action
Session 5 Agreeing how to maintain progress

4: Co–ordinating the programme
5: Information gathering
6: Raising awareness
7: Ready to go

Appendix 1: Case studies of pilots
Milford Haven
South Staffordshire
Appendix 2: The regeneration game
Appendix 3: Getting started worksheets

1. Define your stakeholders
2. Define your area
Appendix 4: Plugging the Leaks surveys
Questions for residents
Questions for public sector bodies or agencies
Questions for businesses
Appendix 5: Leak–plugging ideas