IGP Stories

‘People don’t behave in a way economists sometimes think they behave’

London Prosperity Board Prosperity Index Public Services Europe

Sarah Nisi

Local organisations incorporate IGP’s findings from the London Prosperity Index work into their policies to better reflect the views of the communities they serve.

Prosperity means different things to different people and a good life can be lived in many ways. Understanding this diversity is critical to develop policies and strategies for enhancing prosperity that resonate with local conditions and experience. The Institute for Global Prosperity (IGP) translated its community-led research into a tool to measure what matters to the prosperity of local communities and guide policy and action. The Prosperity Index is a new way of bringing local priorities to decision-making; it is a method that has been piloted in east London and is now being applied to communities around the UK.

Multi-stakeholder partnership to bring citizen-led research into policymaking

To rethink what prosperity means for London, IGP established the London Prosperity Board – an innovative cross-sector partnership between IGP and a wide range of stakeholders from business, government, NGOs and community groups. The London Prosperity Board which oversees the London Prosperity Index work now includes four east London councils (Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Barking & Dagenham), the London Legacy Development Corporation, International Quarter London, Bromley-by-Bow Centre, the East London Business Alliance, Public Health England, the Greater London Authority, Community Links, Poplar HARCA and many more partners.

To allow local policies and strategies to better reflect the views of the communities they serve, many of these partner organisations are now incorporating the findings from the London Prosperity Index into their work.

Hackney Council is using the Prosperity Index to support its focus on inclusive economics, allowing them to “think about people’s lived experience” rather than “just making sure that the economy grows and a few people benefit”. Andrew Munk, Head of Employment and Skills at London Borough of Hackney says: “The Prosperity Index is a really innovative approach. And it is really different to the way people have traditionally done economic development strategies. People don’t behave in a way economists sometimes think they behave - in a rational economic way. People’s income might have gone up but actually they might feel poorer.” Hackney is now building an inclusive economy strategy.

Barking & Dagenham Council combined the Prosperity Index insights with other data to develop a targeted community project. “The Prosperity Index gave us some really local insight into the financial situation of residents”, says Tony Doherty, Data Scientist at London Borough of Barking & Dagenham. The data helped to pinpoint the ideal location for a community supermarket. The Community Food Club now offers financial advice to residents as well as discounted groceries to reduce food poverty in the local area.

The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) uses the Prosperity Index as part of the local plan consultation to help inform all of the data sets that are used to revise the local plan. “To better understand prosperity we really need to get to grips with the diversity of what lived experience (of that local level) is, “ says Emma Frost, Head of Communities and Business at LLDC.

‘Prosperity isn’t just about improving GDP’

New ways of understanding, conceptualising and measuring prosperity are needed, both to inform local decision-making and to equip communities with the tools and evidence they will need to monitor progress and hold decision-makers to account. “Prosperity isn’t just about improving GDP. You also need to fight inequality, promote social cohesion, safeguard the environment, and provide education, health and decent employment, giving people hope for the future”, says Professor Henrietta Moore, Founder and Director of the Institute for Global Prosperity.

Watch our film ‘London Prosperity Index: Citizen Science informing policy’ to learn more.


Image credit: Sarah Nisi

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