What we do

Build Back Better in Bath

Photo by Matthew Waring

This collaboration between The Good Economy and The Institute for Policy Research (IPR) at the University of Bath explores the long-term future of Bath as its local economy and communities come together to find ways to survive the Covid-19 pandemic and coming recession and reconstruct as a fairer, greener and more resilient city thereafter.

The project focuses on a choice: should we try to rebuild the systems we had or should we build new ones? Our early conversations with local stakeholders confirmed that people want to ‘build back better’.

This project has dual aims:

• First, we aim to flesh out what the ‘build back better’ agenda means for the City of Bath, as a local framework for pursuing innovative policies and building dynamic partnerships across sectors and geographies.

• Second, within this framework, we aim to explore the ‘anchor institution’ role of the University as a coordinator and supporter of local economic activity, using its large resource base of knowledge and skills for business and public services innovation, as well as its local purchasing power and job creation potential. Anchor institutions – universities, local councils and NHS trusts, as well as housing associations – also have a social role to play in developing mutually beneficial and sustainable relationships within their host communities.

We will begin with a baseline analysis of where Bath is now, and options for repair or renewal? It will then consult key informants from community and social economy organisations, businesses, public service providers and other anchor institutions (for example, West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership) over what needs to be done (projects and programmes) and how it could be done (resources and partners). This initial phase of the project will culminate in a stakeholder consultation to consider the results of the research and develop possible future scenarios for Bath – possible paths and destinations for ‘building back better’.

The Good Economy’s founding director Mark Hepworth will co-lead the project with IPR Research Director Charles Larkin and International Development Professor James Copestake. The team will include newly graduating economics and politics student Catrin Owen, continuing the student placement partnership between The Good Economy and the University.

The Institute for Policy Research (IPR) is a leading institute of public policy research in the UK. It aims to further the public good through research into issues of significant relevance to policy debate and decision-making, build links with the worlds of policy and practice, and increase public understanding of policy research through public events and publications.


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