Policies for the City Region – serialised: Part 3, Food.

We continue the serialisation of our report, Policies for the City Region. We have long been interested in looking at Greater Manchester’s food systems as case studies for wider economic and social issues.  Here we offer some practical proposals for making our food chains fairer, more secure and less environmentally damaging.  it’s all part of our vision of a Viable Economy. And there’s plenty more to come!  But if you can’t wait: download it here. You can also see out policies page HERE and our publications page HERE.  The party manifestos for the GM mayoral election are out.  See how much overlap you can find with our proposals (hint: there is quite a bit in at least two of them).

2 A sustainable and affordable food supply and distribution network

Manchester City Council already has a formal policy1 that commits it to,

  • working towards Sustainable Food City status

  • develop a policy on health and take aways to support improvements in the diets and health of our residents

  • working towards reducing food waste in the city

  • working to alleviate the scandal of food poverty in the city

  • supporting sustainable food procurement through its own purchases and through its influence with other public sector organisations

It also noted the possibilities for job creation from a sustainable food growing industry.

This very much reflects our own thinking and we would encourage Manchester to build on this so that such an approach becomes the basis for all food procurement across the city. And we want to see this adopted across the whole region. But more still can be done, to address the areas that such a policy framework does not reach and we develop these ideas below.

Policy 2.1: Establish Food Boards in each borough and at GM level, drawing on Manchester’s model.

The thinking behind it:

To implement the above policy, Manchester set up a Food Board, bringing together a variety of stakeholders within an overall public health orientation. This is a good idea in principle, but the Board lacks “teeth”, being essentially a forum for sharing best practice2.

To achieve sufficient scale, the approach needs replicating by each local authority and there needs to be a strategic board at city regional level. The Boards should be awarded a status within the political and administrative hierarchies of local government reflecting the central importance of food in all our lives.

Policy 2.2: Influence supermarkets and market dominant food firms to work responsibly, source locally, reduce waste.

The thinking behind it:

If we are serious about healthy, low carbon, affordable food, then we need to deal with the systems that distribute the larger part of what Greater Manchester eats. The food we eat comes overwhelmingly through supermarkets and these companies exert a powerful, often malign, influence over the entire food supply system. Their supply networks are vulnerable to shocks and disruptions of all kinds3. Shoppers have come to expect ready access to a cornucopian variety of “perfect” fresh products at all times. This can only be achieved through significant over-production and therefore waste4. This also entails domineering relationships with suppliers. Consumption, imports and the use of energy-demanding refrigeration have all been increasing, in large part due to the clever marketing strategies of the supermarkets. “Imports grew by 51% between 1990 and 2005 by weight due to a combination of a 15% increase in consumption at the national level and a decrease in UK agricultural output”5. The establishment of large supermarkets drives smaller traders out of business and a “Friends of the Earth study of local food schemes found that on average just over half of business turnover was returned to the local economy, compared to as little as 5 per cent for supermarkets”6. Scotland and Northern Ireland have effective supermarket levies, returning value to the local economy7.

Local government can use its soft, place-making and convening power to bring supermarkets to account for their local impacts on diets, incomes and ecological footprints. Local sourcing of products is one element of what’s needed8. One model would be Enfield council’s practice of inviting companies operating in the borough to discussions as to how they can discharge their moral responsibility to local people that comes with the “licence to operate”9. Sadly, up to now, local government has seen supermarkets as aiding economic regeneration, a short sighted and naïve view10.

Policy 2.3: Strengthen the emergent “alternative” food production and distribution network (e.g. community-supported agriculture/horticulture schemes) and the city region’s significant food processing industry.

The thinking behind it:

Manchester has two rather different sectors concerned with food. There is a small, energetic “alternative” network with community-farmer links, co-operative retailers, fresh produce distribution to retailers and caterers, and educational projects (for example on cooking) and food waste reduction and re-use initiatives. Associated with this activity has been work on policy development11. There is a much larger, industrial food processing industry in the city whose aims and ways of working have been very different. This is a significant element of the economy, worth £1.06Bn and employing 19,900 people in Greater Manchester in 2014. Researchers at CRESC, University of Manchester identify this as one of the sectors of the “Foundational Economy”, that “…. sheltered sector of the economy that supplies mundane but essential goods and services such as: infrastructures; utilities; food processing, retailing and distribution; and health, education and welfare. The foundational economy is unglamorous but important because is used by everyone regardless of income or social status, and practically is a major determinant of material welfare.12 The food industry, like other foundational parts of the economy is relatively resilient since people have to eat, whatever else happens13.

We suggest that there should be scope for achieving a greater scale for the innovative, “alternative”, food sector while improving the quality and sustainability of the mainstream food processing and manufacturing industry, thereby contributing to food security, reducing environmental impacts, improving population health, while protecting and increasing jobs. This will require a strategic approach bringing together the five elements of government/public sector, private business, universities, active citizens and the organisations of civil society14, something that a GMCA with a clear orientation to the Viable Economy could make happen.

Policy 2.4: Work over the medium term for the replacement of charitable food banks with user-run food coops.

The thinking behind it:

Recent years, in the context of government folly in pursuit of austerity in public expenditure, have seen increasing numbers cast into precarity and destitution. Civil society has responded with the growth of food banks, making available a basic basket of foodstuffs and other necessities on a charitable basis. This has been an admirable response but it has its limits, casting poor people into an essentially passive role as recipients of charity, with the concomitant feelings of shame, anger and gratitude 15. Whilst many food aid initiatives are important spaces of caring and solidarity16, and some run food purchase coops at the same time17 they nevertheless fail to address the underlying causes of household food insecurity. A shift from reliance on charity to deal with food aid is needed in order to uphold the right to affordable access to food and good nutrition. DEMOS has proposed community supermarkets as an alternative to charitable food aid18, suggesting that co-operatives might be one way of delivering these, funded by a Government ‘conversion fund’ for those food banks willing to convert to an alternative, longer term form of affordable food initiatives. Indeed the conversion of food banks to food co-operatives has been shown to work elsewhere19, enabling people to regain power over their situation and establishing alternative economic relations for the distribution of food20.

…..to be continued, or if you want it now, download here:  https://steadystatemanchester.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/policies-for-the-city-region-the-longer-version-v3-final.pdf

You can also see our policies page HERE and our publications page HERE.


2See Report to: Manchester City Council, Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee – 15 December 2015 (item 5) http://www.manchester.gov.uk/download/meetings/id/20082/5_sustainable_food_update

3ESRC (2012) Global Food Systems and UK Food Imports: Resilience, Safety and Security. http://www.foodsecurity.ac.uk/assets/pdfs/gfs-and-uk-food-imports.pdf

4World Wildlife Fund (2008) Environmental impacts of the UK food economy with particular reference to WWF Priority Places and the North-east Atlantic. http://assets.wwf.org.uk/downloads/environmentalimpacts_ukfoodconsumption.pdf

5WWF (2008) ibid.p. 29

6Cited by Another Stirchley Is Possible (2008) What’s Wrong With Supermarkets? https://anotherstirchley.wordpress.com/whats-wrong-with-supermarkets/

7Sustainable Food Cities (2013) Supermarket Levy (campaign announcement) http://sustainablefoodcities.org/newsevents/news/articleid/41/supermarket-levy

8Corporate Watch (n.d.) Supermarket local sourcing initiatives: the benefits of local food. https://corporatewatch.org/content/supermarket-local-sourcing-initiatives-benefits-local-food-0

9Froud, J., Johal, S., Moran, M., & Williams, K. (2012). Must the ex-industrial regions fail? Soundings, 52(52), 133–146. https://www.lwbooks.co.uk/sites/default/files/s52_13froud_johal_moran_williams.pdf

10Steady State Manchester (2014) Supermarkets, levies and the social franchise (blog post). https://steadystatemanchester.net/2014/07/29/supermarkets-levies-and-the-social-franchise/

11Feeding Manchester http://sustainablefoodcities.org/findacity/cityinformation/userid/24 and Oldham Food Network http://sustainablefoodcities.org/findacity/cityinformation/userid/460 (both Sustainable Food Cities network member entries).

13Our previous working paper includes a discussion of the relevance of the Foundational Economy and the need to go beyond it https://steadystatemanchester.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/so-what-would-you-do-v2-0.pdf

14Björk, F. (2015) Penta helix: Conceptualizing cross-sector collaboration and social innovation processes. Urbinnovate blog, University of Malmö. http://blogg.mah.se/urbinnovate/2015/04/27/penta-helix-conceptualizing-cross-sector-collaboration-and-social-innovation-processes/

15Van der Horst, H., Pascucci, S., Bol, W. (2014). The ‘dark side’ of food banks? Exploring emotional responses =of food bank receivers in the Netherlands. British Food Journal, 116 (9), 1506-1520. http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/BFJ-02-2014-0081

16Goldstraw , K. and Diamond, J. (2016). A Good Society: A collaborative Conversation. Ormskirk, I4P and Webb Memorial Trust https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/i4p/files/2014/09/CS-1914b-Collaborative-I4P-Webb-report.pdf ; Lambie-Mumford, H. (2015). Addressing Food Poverty in the UK: Charity. Rights and Welfare. Sheffield, SPERI http://speri.dept.shef.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/SPERI-Paper-18-food-poverty-in-the-UK.pdf

17Lambie-Mumford, H., Crossley, D., Jensen, E., Verbeke, M. and Dowler, E. (2014) ‘Household Food Security in the UK: A Review of Food Aid,’ Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) [SEG 1205] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/food-aid-research-report

18Paget, A. (2015). British Aisles. London, DEMOS https://www.demos.co.uk/files/476_1501_BA_body_web_2.pdf?1427295281

20Caraher, M., & Cavicchi, A. (2014). Old crises on new plates or old plates for a new crises? Food banks and food insecurity. British Food Journal, 116(9). http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/14988/ also ANDES network (n.d.) Social and Solidarity Stores http://www.epiceries-solidaires.org/news/social-and-solidarity-stores

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Achieving a viable economy – is community business the answer?

Next cafe conversation about community businesses and a brief report from our AGM…

Wednesday 17th May 6.30-8pm

Lounge at Manchester Methodist Hall

Central Buildings, Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JQ

There are many types of community businessess including shops, farms, pubs or call centres. Are you running or supporting a community business in Greater Manchester ? Interested in an economy which works for people and planet! If so, this conversation is for you. Book Now! It follows and will key into the lively and valuable March Café Conversation –  Towards a retrofit Garden City’

This Café Conversation will ask your burning questions and:

  • How can a community business* approach community business approach to local economies in GM, support achieve a more viable economy? **
  • What are the issues?
  • How might we get there?
  • How might community businesses be part of a retrofit Manchester Garden City

Book Now

* Community Business: There are many types of community business. They can be shops, farms, pubs or call centres, among many other types of business. What they all have in common is that they are accountable to their community and that the profits they generate deliver positive local impact. They are locally rooted, trade for the benefit of the local community, accountable to the local community and have broad community impact. (paraphrased from Power to Change).
** A Viable Economy will address the perilous state we are in ecologically, socially and economically. Its proposes a path to a resilient, more localised, stable economy that delivers what we all need: a frugal abundance or true prosperity. (Paraphrased from the Viable Economy).

Greater Manchester Retrofit Garden City – our vision of a viable economy

Our AGM on  1st April was a great opportunity to talk to a couple of members who want greater involvement; to appreciate our first full year as a membership organisation; the potential of our bigger and more diverse collective and the work we have done with others in recent months. In particular contributing to the debate about what kind of Greater Manchester we want with devolution; the launch of our cafe conversations; around Universal Basic Income; the sharing economy and with Fossil Free Greater Manchester. We started talking about our strategy for the next 12 months. Our most recent cafe conversation explored the idea of a Greater Manchester Garden City; which we discovered has great potential as our  vision for a viable Manchester and has links with almost everything we do.  We are excited about taking that forward alongside current projects and other new ones. Let us know if you would like to know more about or contribute to our work.

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Policies for the City Region – serialised: Part 2, Energy.

We continue the serialisation of our report, Policies for the City Region.  This installment is about Greater Manchester using considerably less energy, and the transition to clean energy.  It is a long installment but we thought it best to keep all this material together, rather than breaking it up.  Future installments will be shorter, but just as exciting!  But if you can’t wait: download it here. You can also see out policies page HERE and our publications page HERE.

1. An energy transition: less energy, clean energy.

Climate change is the central issue of our times. It is true there are other extremely serious and urgent challenges, but it is climate change that has the capacity to sweep all before it. With mean global surface temperatures near 1.25 degrees C above the pre-industrial level and with the symbolic threshold of 400 ppm. of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere it seems likely that we are at or near the point of no return for runaway global warming with no more than 5 years left of carbon emissions at the present rate if a 50% chance of a 1.5 degree rise is to be averted.

It is not surprising then that there is some mention of environmental sustainability and climate change in many strategy documents and discussions now. However, in most cases the issue is a subsidiary one, subordinate to economic “growth” (itself the chief cause of global warming1), and the measures put in place to deal with it are typically characterised by inadequacy and wishful thinking.

Some orthodox economists do argue that climate change needs to be central. Lord Stern argues that this will save money in the long run while boosting economic growth2. We have exposed the limitations of that view3 and instead take a different approach: serious attention to both preventing and responding to climate change must become central to the economic strategy of the city region. That means a managed reduction in the material size of the economy and a particular focus on energy demand reduction and the replacement of fossil fuels. The logic of this approach extends into all areas of economic and social strategy.

We therefore begin with an emphasis on the conurbation’s energy use with a view to reducing our impact on the environment, especially the climate, while creating local prosperity through wise investment and enterprise in the local economy.

1.1 A Carbon Budget for the region

Policy 1.1: GMCA to set a total carbon budget for the GMCA economy.

A Regional energy demand reduction plan (energy descent) with targets for domestic, industrial, transport and embedded energy use. This will mean agreeing plans with large organisations and publishing the results every year. It might be possible to pilot a resource input cap, or cap and share scheme as part of this.

The thinking behind it:

The key to our impact on the climate is our energy expenditure. For Greater Manchester it is roughly equally spread between the categories Transport, Homes and Business. It is not enough to just switch to renewables because,

  1. some energy sources (transport especially) are difficult, although not impossible, to replace, and

  2. replacing the current levels of fossil fuel energy will require a very demanding renewables infrastructure with impacts on land use for farming, recreation, and “eco-system services” including carbon sequestration and biodiversity.

It is therefore necessary to both “power down”, reducing energy demand, and “power up” – switch to renewable sources4. This requires a coherent plan, with clearly quantified targets and actions for all sectors of the economy.

Most current approaches to energy and carbon emissions management involve “after the event” interventions (carbon trading, carbon taxes, etc.) while what is needed are ways of preventing excessive energy and carbon bearing fuels from entering the economy in the first place. The city region could experiment with setting resource input caps, on an indicative basis at first, with a view to seeking powers to make them mandatory. This might be combined with a scheme where citizens get individual carbon-cap-related allowances which they can trade – a redistributive mechanism5.

Investing in the two elements of “power down” and “power up” could create considerable employment6, the wages for which would also be spent locally into the regional economy – the “multiplier effect”.

1.2 Fossil fuel replacement

Policy 1.21: Replace, within 5 years, 50%, and in 10 years, 100% of electricity used in the city region with alternatives that are, a) zero carbon, b) locally produced, c) community owned.

The thinking behind it:

Electricity generation accounts for 37% of Greater Manchester’s carbon emissions7, so by “powering up” clean, renewable energy, business, public and third sector organisations can make a huge impact by preferentially sourcing their electricity from these sources.

  • There are already options in the existing energy market, but more can be done to stimulate these replacement power sources through establishment of local power generation (wind, solar, geothermal and micro-hydro).

  • Already there are community owned initiatives such as Stockport hydro and the installation of solar panels on social housing but the examples of Germany and Denmark show us that there could be far more installation and crucially that this could be owned and managed by communities, returning the profits to the local economy.

  • There have also been schemes for the collective tendering of supply contracts for domestic consumers, facilitated by local authorities but these have been limited in ambition, concerned solely with price reduction. There need to be innovative tariffs that disincentivise higher levels of consumption.

  • There is already a proposal to establish a local supply company (along the lines of the Nottinghamshire model8). This could go hand in hand with the review of existing contracts of public sector with dominant energy companies, and help for community energy schemes to access affordable start-up finance and a market.

See also section 3 below, Divest from fossil fuels.

Policy 1.22: GMCA to work with organisations across GM to plan the replacement of fossil fuels in accordance with its climate commitments.

The thinking behind it:

Fossil fuel consumption also needs to be phased out in other sectors of the region’s activity. Greater Manchester has committed to the Compact of Mayorsvoluntary action to reduce the carbon footprint and make the most of the area’s energy and resources”. As Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, GM Lead Member for Environment put it,

There is no time to waste, our area and planet must be protected for future generations.9

Yet while cities like Copenhagen plan to be carbon neutral by 202510, Greater Manchester lags behind, not having gone beyond the scientifically inadequate national goal of 80% by 2050 and the very vague “40% reduction between 2005 and 2030”. Nevertheless, 7 of Greater Manchester’s authorities have committed to eliminating fossil fuels by 2050 as part of a 100% clean energy pledge11. Taking into account the lower starting point, in comparison with Copenhagen (we have little District heating and primitive cycle infrastructure, for example), GMCA could nevertheless reasonably establish an ambitious target to eliminate fossil fuels over the next 15 years. In addition to contributing to the avoidance of yet more severe climate change, this would have a major impact on the region’s air quality. An IPPR paper on a Zero Carbon London provides some pointers12.

1.3 Affordable low energy housing

Policy 1.3: An ambitious programme to refurbish, extend, re-purpose, rebuild social and affordable, low energy housing.

The thinking behind it:

Elsewhere13 we set out the following principles for housing in the viable economy:

  • Everyone should have secure access to adequate, truly affordable housing throughout their life, providing the basis for living well through promoting stability, physical and mental health, and strong communities. Adequate housing has sufficient space and amenities and is free from damp or structural defects.
  • In order to stabilise housing markets and promote equitable distribution, new housing should be built only to meet housing needs and not as investment.
  • New and existing homes should be designed to be carbon neutral during construction and use, and residents should empowered to use energy as efficiently as possible.
  • Wherever possible, better use should be made of existing buildings rather than building new homes. Agricultural land, green belts and flood plains should be protected from development.
  • Everyone should be able to live in neighbourhoods with a healthy environment and good access to public transport, services, work opportunities and green spaces for recreation and production.

With regard to the retrofitting and refurbishment of existing housing, a good place to start is the GM Housing Retrofit Strategy, prepared by Urbed and Carbon Co-op14. It proposes a target of 17kg CO2/m2. As Carbon Coop propose in their response to the GM Spatial Framework, this strategy should be formally adopted by GMCA. A key recommendation is that “90% of housing stock to be at Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating B, and 17 kg/CO2 per m2 by 2035. with the remaining 10% of homes achieving a minimum of EPC band C.”

1.4 Strengthen the Region’s Green Economy

Policy 1.4: In keeping with the official economic model, promote and support the development of the green economic sector, especially renewables and energy saving products.

The thinking behind it:

We have advocated for a “Replacement Economy” – the new or expanded sectors that would take the place of the most environmentally and socially damaging sectors. However, this idea also aligns with the GMCA’s current Priority 12, “Seizing the growth potential of a low carbon economy”. We turn the idea on its head. Rather than promoting the low carbon economy in order to facilitate economic “growth”, it is vital that this is done for its own merit. In so doing, there is scope for re-establishing the region as a manufacturing centre, which in itself will contribute to climate risk reduction by reducing shipping emissions. We are not against growth in these sectors of the economy, so long as the overall material scale of the economy is scaled down to a sustainable scale15. It will also help provide good quality jobs for Greater Manchester’s people.

The recommendations in the foregoing policies will all contribute to this aim, as will some of those below. Greater Manchester’s low carbon and environmental goods and services (LCEGS) sector made sales worth £5.4billion in 2013. However, to expand on this requires clarity about the sectors that will provide the best returns, not just in terms of profits (essential as they are for viability) but for incomes and environmental impacts. Some work has been done on the opportunities for what is the UK’s third largest regional LCEGS sector16, but more needs doing, in the context of competitive production in low wage economies, to prioritise this area and support the industry, especially its SME’s17 (which give a greater return to the regional economy than big corporates).

1.5 Contain and reduce aviation and private motoring.

Policy 1.51: Freeze the expansion of the airport and flight numbers, set aviation reduction targets by phased reduction of flights and setting a date to close one of the two runways.

The thinking behind it:

Unregulated carbon emissions from the aviation sector are the fastest growing source of the greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to global climate change18”. For the UK, emissions from aviation made up some 6% of total emissions in 2014. Since 1990, aviation emissions have doubled. As the Committee on Climate Change notes, “It is important that decisions about UK airport capacity are consistent with the UK’s commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050, as set out in the Climate Change Act.“19, but expansion of aviation will make it very difficult to meet even the inadequate 2050 emission reduction targets20. As Manchester climate scientists, Larkin et al. have shown21, “Limited opportunities to further improve fuel efficiency, slow uptake of new innovations, coupled with anticipated rises in demand across continents collectively present a huge challenge to aviation in cutting emissions.” They also draw attention to the risk of aviation investments becoming “stranded assets” should serious climate change mitigation action be taken. Our proposal is for minimum actions required if the city region is serious about playing its part in reducing climate change.

Policy 1.52: Make plans to reduce the economic dependence of GM local authorities on revenues from the Manchester Airport Group. Initiate an award and incentive scheme for not flying.

The thinking behind it:

The airport makes a contribution to the City Region’s economy. While that contribution is usually overstated22, with, for example, income from the airport contributing maybe 1% to local authority funding, there is a condition of dependency on aviation because of the many jobs provided by the airport and by associated industries, even while the airport acts as a conduit for financial flows out of the region23. A comprehensive framework therefore needs to be drawn up to replace aviation as a key link in the region’s economy, involving re-purposing of land and buildings, and harnessing the developing replacement economy to provide part of the alternative. We can learn from the failure to plan for industrial alternatives in previous phases of sectoral decline and fall (for example the cotton and mining industries) and from proposals to create alternatives to the extractivist sectors in the Global South24.

Outline of the steps to reduce Greater Manchester’s reliance on aviation and its aviation emissions footprint. Solid red arrows = sequence of steps; dashed Red arrows = economic pathways; Blue arrows = emissions reduction pathways.

Policy 1.53: Radically reduce the use of private cars in urban areas.

The thinking behind it:

This could involve a car parking levy on employers, taking car parks out of use, congestion charging and using the proceeds to fund public transport and pedestrian/cycle infrastructure, work with employers to establish inverse mileage allowance tariffs (e.g. more money for smaller cars, no payments for short journeys, decreasing rate as mileage increases).

…Greater Manchester is a car-dependent city. …. The current dominance of drive-to-work commuting is obvious, even if we focus on radial commutes into Manchester City from the outer boroughs….But [excluding Salford-Manchester] 60-70% of the commutes in to Manchester City are by car.”25

The result is a city and region choked by cars. Suburban centres and residential areas are choked. Cycling is unpleasant due to having to share with cars and lorries. Air quality is poor and greenhouse gas emissions are high. Public transport is poorly coordinated and suffers poor investment. Investment choices have been questionable: while convenient for those areas that have it, Metrolink was probably not the best choice to bring clean efficient transport quickly to as many people as possible and it has made little or no impact on non-radial travel. Moreover fares are prohibitive for a significant part of the population.

To make a real difference there needs to be a combination of wise investment in cost-effective and low emission public transport and infrastructure to encourage cycling and walking, together with strong incentives to switch from car use and disincentives to use cars. At the same time there needs to be action to reduce demand to travel. Our proposals illustrate some practical steps that can be taken26.

1.6 Help people make low carbon choices.

Policy 1.61: Offer structured help and incentives so people can choose lower carbon options for heating and travelling.

The thinking behind it:

This could be via subsidised energy survey and supplier accreditation services or by brokerage of job swaps across the region to specifically reduce commuter time and miles.

It is generally recognised that the transition to a lower energy and zero carbon alternative will require a combination of public policy and action from all sectors (public, private, civil) and from citizens themselves27. However, it is a fallacy to think that the transition is in the hands of individuals. People can and will make ethical choices if those options are available and are attractive to them. For some products and services (for example domestic heating and energy-saving) the decisions are not straightforward but require surveys, analysis and appraisal of options28. For other decisions, people need help to make relevant contacts and the support of organisations that employ, house, or otherwise serve them (as in the example of swapping similar jobs to reduce travel time, costs, demand on transport and emissions).

To be continued – but if you can’t wait: download it here. You can also see out policies page HERE and our publications page HERE.


2He has reiterated this argument 10 years on from the original report: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/27/10-years-on-from-the-stern-report-a-low-carbon-future-is-the-only-one-available? Where we do agree with him is in the emphasis on the critical role of cities in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

3See our work on this issue here: https://steadystatemanchester.net/?s=decoupling

4See Centre for Alternative Technology. (2013). Zero Carbon Britain: Rethinking the Future. Wales: Centre for Alternative Technology Publications. Retrieved from http://zerocarbonbritain.com/

5Davey, B. (Ed.). (2012). Sharing for Survival. Dublin: FEASTA. Also http://www.feasta.org/documents/energy/Cap-and-Share-May08-summary.htm

6Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group (2014) One Million Climate Jobs: Tackling the Environmental and Economic Crises. http://www.climate-change-jobs.org/

7Based on data from, GMCA (2016) Change and Low Emissions Implementation Plan (2016-2020). https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/downloads/file/221/change_and_low_emissions_implementation_plan_2016-2020 p. 17

8Nottinghamshire Community Energy. http://nce.coop/about/

9GMCA (2016) Greater Manchester has come together with cities around the world to join the fight against climate change. Webbsite news item. https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/news/article/101/greater_manchester_fights_climate_change

10Gerdes, E (2013) Copenhagen’s Ambitious Push To Be Carbon Neutral by 2025 Yale Environment 360. http://e360.yale.edu/feature/copenhagens_ambitious_push_to_be_carbon_neutral_by_2025/2638/

11GMCA (2016) Change and Low Emissions Implementation Plan (2016-2020). https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/downloads/file/221/change_and_low_emissions_implementation_plan_2016-2020 p. 19.

12IPPR (2015) Zero-Carbon London: a plan for the next mayoral term. http://www.ippr.org/files/publications/pdf/zero-carbon-london_Nov2015.pdf

14URBED / Carbon Co-op (2016) Greater Manchester Low Carbon Housing Retrofit Strategy (Discussion Draft). http://urbed.coop/sites/default/files/GM_%20Low%20Carbon%20Housing_Retrofit_DiscussionDraft%281%29.pdf

15Steady State Manchester (2013) Good and bad growth. (Blog post.) https://steadystatemanchester.net/2013/09/29/good-and-bad-growth/

16See Pro-Manchester web page on the Green Economy. http://www.pro-manchester.co.uk/sector-groups/green-economy/ and Seagrave, H. (2014) Powering Greater Manchester: how will we fuel our future? . New Economy Working Paper NEWP 010. http://media.ontheplatform.org.uk/sites/default/files/NEW_paper_10_-_Powering_Greater_Manchester.pdf

17Steady State Manchester (2016) Are small firms getting a good deal in Greater Manchester? (blog post) https://steadystatemanchester.net/2016/03/14/are-small-firms-getting-a-good-deal-in-greater-manchester/

18World Wildlife Fund (2014) Nobel Prize Winners to ICAO: Carbon Emissions Have a Cost. (Press Release.) https://www.worldwildlife.org/press-releases/nobel-prize-winners-to-icao-carbon-emissions-have-a-cost

19Committee on Climate Change (2016) UK aviation emissions must be consistent with UK climate change commitments, CCC says. (News release). https://www.theccc.org.uk/2016/10/25/uk-aviation-emissions-must-be-consistent-with-uk-climate-change-commitments-ccc-says/

20The Aviation Environment Federation (2015) Infographic: Why airport expansion risks the UK’s climate change commitments. http://www.aef.org.uk/2015/03/16/infographic-why-airport-expansion-risks-the-uks-climate-change-commitments/

21Bows-Larkin, A., et al. (2016). Aviation and Climate Change-The Continuing Challenge. In R. Blockley & W. Shyy (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering (pp. 1–11). Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/9780470686652.eae1031 AND https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303446744_Aviation_and_Climate_Change-The_Continuing_Challenge

22Steady State Manchester (2013) The supposed economic benefit of aviation expansion. (blog post) https://steadystatemanchester.net/2013/06/25/the-supposed-economic-benefit-of-aviation-expansion/

23Wood, F., Bows, A and Anderson, K. (2012) Policy Update: A one-way ticket to high carbon lock-in: the UK debate on aviation policy, Carbon Management, 3:6, 537-540, http://dx.doi.org/10.4155/cmt.12.61

24Gudynas, E. (2012) Hay alternativas al extractivismo: transiciones para salir del viejo desarrollo. [There are alternatives to extractivism: transitions to exit from the old development {model].] CEPES/RedGE, Lima. http://www.alainet.org/images/transiciones-para-salir-del-viejo-desarrollo.pdf

25Folkman, P., Froud, J., Johal, S., Tomaney, J., & Williams, K. (2016). Manchester Transformed: Why we need a reset of city region policy (CRESC Public Interest Report) (p. 61). Manchester: Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC), University of Manchester. http://www.cresc.ac.uk/medialibrary/research/ManchesterTransformed.pdf

26Further and more ambitious suggestions can be found at Burton, M. (2009). A Green Deal for the Manchester-Mersey Bioregion: An Alternative Regional Strategy. Manchester. http://greendealmanchester.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/outline-for-a-green-deal-for-the-manchester-mersey-bioregion-v-4-4.pdf p.10-12.

27See e.g. Manchester Climate Change Agency http://manchesterclimate.com/getinvolved

28London’s “Green Homes Concierge” scheme is a good example http://www.greenhomesconcierge.co.uk/your%20home

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How many homes do we need in Greater Manchester, and where?

It has been argued that Greater Manchester has a choice. Either build on the green belt and have more high-rise in the city centre, or have insufficient new homes for an expanding population. Let’s examine this claim.

View this as a pdf.

The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) suggested that there was a need to build 227,200 new homes over 20 yrs or 11,360 per year (according to its favoured “Accelerated growth scenario”).

The CPRE commissioned an independent demographer who concluded, having corrected for errors like double counting, that “The Housing Target should be 9,894 dwellings per annum, 197,885 over the 20-year plan period. This includes a 5% buffer and is in line with past delivery and within the ten Local Authorities’ current five year land supplies.”

So here is the GMSF projection:


Total Requirement

Average Annual Requirement

Houses (%)

Flats (%)



















































Total for GM





GM Spatial Framework: Table 8.1 Housing requirement

A simple revision of the above table to the CPRE projection, with population estimates corrected would be as follows.


Total Requirement

Average Annual Requirement

Houses (%)

Flats (%)



















































Total for GM





What about empty homes? The current number of vacant homes in Greater Manchester: is more than 11,000. This would still suggest a need for new build to keep place with demographic change.

Since in GMSF, 72% (163,584) of new home construction is on brownfield sites, therefore 63,616 on Greenfields, these CPRE figures would imply 34,301 on Greenfield sites, other things being equal (i.e. using the figure of 163,584 built on Brownfields which GMSF believes feasible).

But are other things equal? “Previously local authorities across Greater Manchester achieved between 80%-90% brownfield development.” (CPRE) Applying this range to the GMSF target would mean 181,760 to 204,480 on Brownfields and 45,440 to 22,720 on Greenfield sites.

Assuming that these higher levels on brownfield sites could be achieved (and there is evidence of under-identification of brownfield sites) and then applying them to the downwardly revised total target this would mean a Brownfield shortfall of 16,125 units (at 80%) or a surplus of 6,595 homes (at 90%).

None of this takes into account the option of increased medium-rise development. This is a “missing element” in UK cities, which sprawl considerably more than their continental counterparts. See Stuart MacDonald’s discussion (video and slides from 1hr:36m) at Manchester council for this argument. The “missing in-between” is a key flaw in the argument put forward by Manchester’s leader Sir Richard Leese, that there is a simple choice between high rise in the city centre or green belt sprawl.


If we combine,

1) corrected population projections,

2) feasibly higher levels of brownfields construction,

3) more medium rise construction (i.e. greater density, both new build and building up from existing stock/foundations),

then there is likely to be no need to build on green fields.


CPRE (2017) Response to the Draft Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.


GMCA (2016) Draft Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.


Manchester Evening News (14 October, 2016) More than 11,000 empty homes in Greater Manchester.


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Policies for the City Region – serialised: Part 1, setting the scene

Here we begin a serialisation of out report, Policies for the City Region.  This installment explains what we are trying to do, and the essentials of our Viable Economy approach.  It also gives a preview of what will follow.  But if you can’t wait: download it here. You can also see out policies page HERE and our publications page HERE.

Policies for the City Region

This is a contribution from Steady State Manchester to the debate about policies for the city region.

We are a group working out how best to respond here to

  • environmental challenges including climate change, resource depletion and damage to the environment
  • deep-seated social problems including poverty, social deprivation and fragmentation
  • economic problems including debt, unemployment, austerity and instability

These issues need to be tackled nationally and globally as well here in our region where we can “take back control” and devise our own solutions.

It’s a huge task and we don’t have all the answers. We’ve borrowed and built on ideas from Manchester and all over the world. We do know that we can’t carry on with business as usual. Economic growth, as conventionally understood, is part of the problem, not part of the solution. The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) plans contain some good ideas but will not create the fundamental shifts we need to reduce our massive carbon footprint. Nor will they put local people in control and reduce inequalities.

These practical proposals for Greater Manchester are relevant to the new GM Mayor and the local authorities but perhaps more so to everyone who lives or works in Greater Manchester. They cover money, work, enterprise, housing, caring for each other, democracy, inequalities and the strengths of communities as well as energy and the environment. We set out specific policy proposals here, and also refer to other documents we have produced setting out detailed policies, or in some cases those of other organisations. In every case we explain our thinking.


A Viable Greater Manchester

The Policies: Treading lightly for shared prosperity

1. An energy transition: less energy, clean energy.

2 A sustainable and affordable food supply and distribution network

3 Divest from fossil fuels.

4. Anchor institutions

5. Economic localisation

6 Finance

7 National redistribution

8 Jobs and income

9 Community

A Viable Greater Manchester

We base our approach on our framework, The Viable Economy1, which identifies an alternative set of values and principles for a seamless economic, social, political, cultural and ecological framework.

Key features of the Viable Economy:

Economically viable

  1. An economy that is resilient in the face of bubbles, crashes, supply chain interruptions and the whim of National governments.

  2. More money staying local and more democratic and local control over savings and investment.

  3. An economy that delivers (and measures) what we need rather than growth for growth’s sake.

  4. A balanced economy without the hyper-development of some sectors (e.g. financial speculation, armaments).

  5. An economy that does not have to keep expanding, although where some sectors will grow,(e.g. renewable energy) and some must shrink (e.g. fossil fuels).

  6. Where needed investment comes from within rather than from exploitation of other peoples or as profit-seeking from external investors.

Socially viable

  1. Control over the economy rather than the economy controlling us.

  2. An economy that relies on and builds equality, solidarity and cooperation among people, here and elsewhere.

  3. An economy that rather than increasing inequality, progressively becomes more equitable.

  4. Less exploitation of the majority world while keeping open channels for communication and learning globally.

  5. An economy founded on stewardship of human and social capital, that does not waste people’s energies and talents, that includes everyone.

  6. With an increased space for non-commercial transactions: the collaborative or solidarity economy.

Ecologically viable

  1. Radically reducing both the exploitation of finite resources and the emission of pollutants, including greenhouse gases: a one-planet economy.

  2. Based on production and consumption for need: a frugal abundance.

  3. More security for us all because the environment is protected from further destruction.

  4. Resilient to climatic and other ecological shocks.

  5. An economy that practices stewardship of the natural world that we depend on.

The Policies: Treading lightly for shared prosperity

This diagram gives a snapshot of

  • our key themes (section titles outside the circle in bold) and
  • how we want to pursue them (inside the circle).


…..to be continued, or if you want it now, download here:  https://steadystatemanchester.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/policies-for-the-city-region-the-longer-version-v3-final.pdf

You can also see out policies page HERE and our publications page HERE.

1 Steady State Manchester (2014) The Viable Economy. https://steadystatemanchester.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/the-viable-economy-master-document-v4-final.pdf

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Mayfield’s future – unleashing the imagination

We have covered a number of planning issues here recently.  One thing we have highlighted is the “imaginative deficit”, that the plans being offered, whether for specific urban developments, or for the City Region’s use of land as a whole, lack any kind of vision for the kind of place we might want to live, work and rest in.  Instead we are fed a depressing litany of sterile high-rise with speculative investment in flats and offices, building on Mayfield Report front covergreen spaces and an economy based on accelerating the flow of consumer goods with the attendant warehouses and trunk roads.  Can’t we do better than this?

Well yes.  Steady State Manchester is looking at taking its work on the “Retrofit Garden City” further and meanwhile here is the alternative vision for the Mayfield area near Piccadilly Station, from Manchester Shield and colleagues.  This is an excellent example of how an alternative approach can work.  Appropriately enough, the planning process was called an “Imaginarium” and the press release below tells you all about it.
The report is a beautifully presented “image of possibility”, highly recommended.

Press Release

Manchester’s Mayfield district defined by the people.

The Mayfield Imaginarium Collaborative have launched their report into the future of the Mayfield area and say that their sample and findings not only far exceed Manchester City Council’s public consultation research numbers, but reveal that public aspirations are vastly different to the conclusions of the Council’s report.

Mayfield Report word cloudThey have now met the developer U&I manager and representatives to present their thorough report. Communicating with the group throughout their research, U+I have said that they are delighted to have received the results and visions from the research of well over 500 people.

They have even requested to meet the CEO Richard Upton and asked him to present some of their finding at their MIPIM presentation. Upton describes Mayfield as a “‘bottom- up regeneration’ which is going to deliver something world class for Manchester” and the collaborative certainly have made this mark as a community led imaginative consultation.

The collaborative included a group of academics, architects, planners, artists and campaigners. Public engagement and data collection including a weekend of professional workshops attended by over 120 people in which many core research activities took place. These core activities engaged the attending public to respond to Mayfield’s opportunities via creatively diverse engagement activities.

Based on the findings of their public workshops, the collaborative ran a survey which was completed by 429 people. The collaborative produced their report and undertook their research as unpaid volunteers with no formal funding. The public consultations by Manchester City Council only received 108 responses.

All the findings are summarised in a report made by an architectural start-up ‘architecture:unknown’, which has been released into the public domain, highlighting the main results.

The Mayfield site – abandoned as a train station in the 1960s – equates to 4% of the whole of the city centre and will be one of the most important new built projects of the coming decade. The new district of Mayfield will likely see around £850 million worth of investment.

The collaborative are already requesting that when the official public consultations come out later in 2017, that U+I will work with a range of professional, academic, third sector, civic and community groups to enable the Mayfield development to reach its optimum potential, which we all desire.

Hometown Plus have recently started working with the collaborative and their findings. The organisation hopes to facilitate cross-sector introductions and broker new partnerships for commercial good and community benefit. There is hope that this alliance can facilitate the community’s aspirations for the area including the re-use and preservation of heritage, long-term community infrastructure and investment in the creativity, innovation and health of all aspects of this new neighbourhood.

The top five words used when people asked what they would like to see Mayfield become were “creative, exciting, green, innovative and unique”. The graphic attached to this press release highlights the main findings in the main areas of what people desired to see.

Popular ideas included; using the archways for arts and entrepreneurial businesses, having a high-rise and train carriage market park on the old station with botanical elements, arts and entrepreneurial discount housing and studio spaces for new businesses, an array of creative tourist destinations, with affordable eco-housing.

People wanted to see Mayfield having a unique architectural style which valued its heritage, whilst preserving the ‘Star and Garter’ as an independent business and to make the area unique, not just for Manchester but regarding international reputation.

Daniel Kelso from ‘architecture: unknown’ commented “our findings differ greatly to the ‘Strategic Regeneration Framework’ findings of Manchester City Council. Those reports suggested the removal of Mayfield’s history, mainly advocating the demolition of the site. The word affordable was not once used in that report regarding housing. Their report did not cover creative bases which our public research has found, which illustrated that people hope, and dream Mayfield can be unique”.

Adam Prince from the civic empowerment pressure movement, Manchester Shield says “There is great discord in the city at the moment regarding how consultation and engagement are being handled by politicians and other developers. Mayfield is a vital opportunity to work with an incredible developer in a completely new district of Manchester. But more than that and beyond Mayfield, Shield will now be working to advocate new models of engagement and consultation, valuing citizens rather than ostracising them”.

John Hesketh from Hometown Plus says “It is a unique opportunity for a developer to work with the people of Manchester and truly create something special with regards to infrastructure and sustainable long-term neighbourhoods. These will leave positive social legacies and enable Manchester to improve and its people to pioneer and thrive”.


  1. To speak to architecture:unknown please call Daniel Kelso, 07427647381 or Charlie Butterwick, 07894012780. Alternatively to arrange an interview, please call Adam Prince on 07722405823.
  2. The summary report is published here: https://issuu.com/architectureunknown/docs/17.02.18_mayfield_imaginarium_repor
  3. Please feel free to use any graphics from the report crediting architecture:unknown, whose website can be found at http://www.architectureunknown.co.uk/
  4. To speak to Hometown Plus please call John Hesketh on 07939562710
  5. Mayfield project is also on Twitter @MayfieldIam & facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MayfieldImaginarium/
  6. Manchester Shield will be launching a letter campaign to demand a new planning model, independent civic research, transparency in strategic frameworks, new models for genuine engagement and demanding a civic voice in Manchester and its ambitions. Manchester Shield seeks to work with as many collaborators as possible lobbying for this change in getting as many people to sign the letters as possible.
  7. Please find Manchester Shield at @mcrshield and https://www.facebook.com/mcrshield
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Universal Basic Income: Is it the only cornerstone of a just society?

Read this as a pdf

Carolyn Kagan options spinner picture
Steady State Manchester
The momentum in favour of universal basic income is gathering. John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, recently announced the Labour Party was establishing a working group to investigate UBI. Round about the same time, at our SSM/MMU event on Universal Basic Income, featuring Karl Widerquist, we asked people who came three things:why they were interested in UBI, how their or others’ lives might change if UBI were introduced and what alternative policies might be introduced to achieve the same ends as UBI?

Interest in UBI

Interests in UBI were wide ranging. Several people wanted to know if and how it could work in practice and what the implications would be if there were still destitution? Some concerns were expressed about how ‘citizenship’ would be defined and whether there would always be people excluded. The potential advantages were:

It would bring people out of extreme poverty and those unable to work, or, unable to find work would not be at such a disadvantage

It would realise the dignity and unifying effect of no longer having the ‘strivers and the skivers’ as our current welfare system is perceived.

The challenge to the current state of affairs was recognised.

In the transition to even greater use of technology, jobs will become scarcer. With UBI people could top up their income with part-time work. The stigma attached to ‘benefit claiming’ would be removed. Making the payment universal would reduce bureaucracy.

Apart from getting a cheque each month, I am interested in what effect it would have on society. I see the social and economic system as a complex system and the UBI is a fundamental change to that system, so, when making fundamental change to a complex system, the emergent effects are unpredictable and potentially significant. So I am interested to see what effects UBI will have in the real world, positive and negative.

It has been in the mind of many people. But, its application requires a huge effort not just to social groups and social scientists, but also to convinced political parties and mostly to convince several strategic sectors that haven’t been involved in this issue yet.

How might lives change with UBI?

People identified lots of ways lives would be changed for the better with UBI.

It would mean for me a better society. More equal society in terms of income. Happier.

No need to work. Reduce vilification of people needing benefits. Push conditions of employment and service up

I think that the most positive aspect would be that people would be free to pursue their dreams. This could potentially create a much more value for society than currently. For example, I would be free to work on a start-up.

I can only see improvements for everyone. A UBI to give everyone a lift; means that those on benefits are no longer ‘slaves’ working for the JobCentre Plus ‘master’ and churning out CVs and job applications; means that only those who actually want the flexibility of the zero-hour contract are forced to take zero-hour contracts I think that it would allow people more freedom and time to pursue more meaningful work, or develop their interest/passion in order to find suitable work in the future. A shift toward this could contribute greater wellbeing, due to more economic security than is currently granted.

Have wellbeing? Healthier communities? Happier people? Decent living?

I would be better able to continue in my varied self employment, which I enjoy very much but is a low and patchy income that I couldn’t manage on for ever. This self employment gives me freedom to dedicate a lot of time to pursuits that I consider to be more worthwhile than any paid work I’ve ever done – currently running the organisation World basic Income

Remove anxiety leading to improved mental health of no or few choices. Opening up choices of how to live.

Alternatives to UBI

As to alternatives to UBI, several people were stumped and not able to think of alternatives.. However a range of possibilities were and these included:

Reform of tax law – and a proper system where people can contribute and then get back but not a something for nothing culture. And spending on weapons could stop.

In a sense NHS and free u16 education are a form of UBI. Need to do community testing broadly

Stronger Unions. Increased use of cooperatives.

Work guarantee with the right to refuse until an appropriate job comes up

The living wage. International wages for housework

Free homes for everyone. Free gas and electric

Presenting positive points of view from employers (the richer the better)

Have a UBI for a sector of the community e.g. 18-25 year-olds initially, as being proposed by the potential left in France.

We thought it might be useful to overview some of these alternatives.

Alternatives to UBI?

Many alternative proposals are based on the principle that paid employment offers the best route out of poverty. However, we know that there are high levels of in-work poverty (JRF, 2016a), that precarious work leads to poor psychological health (Banach et al., 2014), and that there are growing inequalities and increasing numbers of households failing to meet minimum income standards (Davis et al., 2016). There is also the very real danger that further automation will render full employment for all just a pipe dream (Srineck and Williams, 2015), although the contrary view is that a coming scarcity of energy will make that unlikely in the longer term (Davey, 2016). Assuming for a moment that full employment is a possibility, the case against UBI and for paid work should be revisited.

Why work?

Society places a high social value on paid employment. So, not only does work provide a source of income, it is also a source of self-respect, social status and identity. Unemployment (involuntary) on the other hand, is strongly associated with depression and feelings of a lack of self worth. Fryer and Fagan (2003) drew attention to the reasons why some people continue to work when in receipt of benefits that provide them with an income. They found that when people were out of paid employment and in receipt of benefits, some turned to work in the hidden or ‘black’ economy, which provided them with a sense of pride, status and respect. It enabled them to develop skills and to buy necessary items like children’s shoes. Those who remained reliant on out of work benefits, on the other hand, showed signs of depression, passivity, and feelings of humiliation and stigmatisation. Importantly, there was a lack of reciprocity, of an exchange relationship; whereas working in the hidden economy enabled a reciprocal relationship between work done, payment received and entitlement to spend as people pleased.

Trial experiments of UBI have shown that contrary to most people’s predictions, people continued to work, even in the face of a guaranteed basic income. (The exceptions were some young people who continued to study and women with small children, particularly single mothers.) However, the reciprocal relationship – of work done and payment received was missing. Do we need this kind of reciprocity or not?

It is important to note that studies on the psychological consequences of (involuntary) unemployment have been undertaken in the context of paid work being highly valued in society, leading to social status and the self-respect that comes with this (Mckenzie, 2014). One of the advantages predicted for UBI, is the weakening of the social value placed on paid employment, in favour of unpaid work, caring, creativity and community building. In other words, UBI would change the social norms around work and break the link between social status (being socially valued) and paid employment.

Variants on a UBI theme

Before we go on to consider alternatives to UBI it is worth mentioning variants on the Basic Income theme. Firstly, negative income tax, originally proposed by Milton Friedman, writing about the alleviation of poverty (Friedman, 1962) from the political right but re-visited later by Block and Manza (1997) from a progressive political position. A negative income tax is a progressive tax system whereby households below a certain income receive a cash transfer from the Government instead of paying taxes. Effectively a negative income tax would create a floor below which income could not fall. This would give a degree of income security, enabling choices to be made by those in work about how many hours to work, and giving some basic income to those without paid employment. In Block and Manza’s formulation it would also supplement low wages, as tax credits do under the present system. They argue that it avoids the “benefit trap” whereby people on certain benefits gain little or nothing by becoming employed at low wages.

Negative income tax would not address the universality aspect of UBI, being targeted instead on those with low incomes: instead it is a progressive measure, integrating money subsidies to the poor with the tax system, with those on higher incomes contributing progressively more.

Stakeholder grants, however, have been proposed as alternatives to UBI, and to be universal. Ackerman and Alstott (2004) argue that a 2% tax on the wealthiest, would enable a grant to be paid to all those coming of age as long as they complete secondary school and do not have a criminal record. (Ackerman and Alstott, 2004). The grant would enable all citizens of working age to make choices and plan their lives, spending (or saving) their money as they wish. Every citizen, then, claims her or his stake (or collect their Basic Income) simply by virtue of being a citizen capable of forming a life plan. The idea is similar to that introduced in the UK via the Child Trust funds – a small amount of money paid to every new born child, invested until the child reaches 18, and then to be spent on whatever the young person chooses. Critiques of the stakeholder income include the argument that this grant would be to the advantage of those with the human and knowledge capital to use the money wisely, and to the detriment of those who did not (Standing, 2006).

Perhaps income redistribution is not the only way to alleviate poverty.

Other proposed variants of UBI include proposals to (1) use a form of UBI as a way of sharing the profits from equities (i.e. the ownership of capital) (Varoufakis, 2016); (2) return unused UBI payments to Government or to charity in order to discourage the accumulation of further wealth by those on higher incomes (Cadarn Research, 2017) and (3) the FEASTA Cap and Share proposals in which carbon permits are bought by fossil fuel companies and the revenues from these shares distributed equally in the population, thereby reducing carbon emissions whilst at the same time providing an income in an equitable way (http://www.feasta.org/documents/energy/Cap-and-Share-May08-summary.htm).

Given that affordability is a recurrent issue, one alternative might be to combine UBI with a complementary local currency, one not linked to sterling but nevertheless backed by councils and other institutions (for example by accepting payment or part payment in these local units – this would be an essential requirement in order to ensure the currency had value). The Hullcoin pilot has these characteristics http://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/what-is-hull-coin-and-why-is-it-the-city-s-answer-to-groupon/story-29582248-detail/story.html. There is no limit on the amount of such currency that can be created (other than what the local economy can sustain) and it would have the virtue of keeping money local, rather than leaching out to profit centres elsewhere. Such a variant of UBI could be trialled in parallel with the existing benefit system.

In addition, there are alternatives in the form of a redesigned social welfare system; job guarantees; participation income; and civic economy developments.

A redesigned social welfare system

Two recent poverty-reduction strategies, with paid employment as the goal, include substantial changes to the social security and tax systems.

A complex and comprehensive anti-poverty package has been proposed by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF, 2016a,b). This strategy places responsibilities on government, employers and businesses, communities and citizens to develop economic opportunities alongside social reform. The emphasis of the strategy is to ensure that everyone has a decent and secure life. The outcomes of the strategy are declared to be: to boost incomes and reduce costs; deliver an effective benefits system; improve education standards and raise skills; strengthen families and communities; and promote long term economic growth benefiting everyone (p. 21). The package, then has jobs, education, employment and economic growth (albeit what JRF are calling, after the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – http://www.oecd.org/inclusive-growth/), ‘inclusive growth’) as the key route out of poverty, taking little account of the changing nature of work and the possibilities of a reduction in jobs overall. Furthermore, it does little to explicitly challenge the negative psychological consequences of a welfare system founded on eligibility assessments, conditions and sanctions: a system that is humiliating and belittling, leading to stigma, loss of self esteem, demoralisation, apathy and even mental ill health. The strategy is to be welcomed for its comprehensiveness, but because it retains a focus on economic growth, we do not believe it is environmentally sustainable in the long term.

Another set of proposals that aims to reduce poverty and raise lower and middle incomes through the re-design of the social security system comes from Harrop (2016a) in a report for the Fabian Society.

The report discusses at length the merits and challenges of a universal basic income (Harrop, 2016b). It concludes that the idea of a basic income might be the eventual end point after policy reform, but that the focus should be on “practical, incremental policy changes which embody something of the spirit of the basic income idea, but make sense as reforms in themselves” (Harrop, 2016a:139). (This incremental approach also features in the recent Compass proposals for UBI (Reed and Lansley, 2016)).

Harrop proposes retaining, but increasing the generosity of, means tested out of work benefits but supplementing them with the gradual introduction of individual universal credits in place of tax allowances, and substantially increasing the amounts of child and disability allowances. He also argues that adult credits should be conditional on participation in society (on learning, parenting, caring, job search or work preparation). The proposals include ‘disaggregation’ – moving away from the assessment of household income to benefits and allowances being awarded to individual adults and children. This change alone could have the effect of enabling greater independence and autonomy and reducing financial dependency, especially for women or for those with caring responsibilities.

Harrop acknowledges the challenge that providing for housing costs presents, and also that his proposals depend on economic growth (although there is no reason why Government could not just fund them) and questions whether or not his proposals would be adequate if the assumed growth did not take place. Scant attention is paid to the changing nature of work, and extent of precarious and uncertain work. Embedded within these proposals is the idea of a guaranteed job for those out of work for 12 months, modelled on the Young People’s Guarantee which was in place 2009-2011.

Indeed, the major challenge to UBI as a policy comes from those who advocate guaranteed work as the means by which people gain purpose and meaning and positive mental health and well-being as well as income security.

The Job Guarantee

Job guarantees for young people are a part of the contemporary political landscape. As a response to the recent fiscal crisis, the UK Coalition Government introduced a voluntary job guarantee for young people via the Futures Job Fund, which proved successful in moving young people into unsubsidised work and off benefits (Alkker and Cavill, 2011; DWP, 2012). The 2015 Labour Party Manifesto included a Compulsory Job Guarantee for every young person, unemployed for over a year, guaranteeing a job which they would have to take or lose benefits. The then leader Ed Miliband explained :”.. it will be a tough contract – those who can work will be required to take up the jobs on offer or lose their benefits. A life on benefits will simply not be an option” (http://press.labour.org.uk/post/79110402681/next-labour-government-will-guarantee-starter-jobs). The crucial difference between job guarantees (and indeed of the current social protection policies) and UBI is focused on the ‘unconditionality’ principle. Should people be entitled to state income without the expectation of a contribution in return?

Not all job guarantee schemes are as hard-line as the workfare-like version proposed by Miliband. Tchervena has argued for the job guarantee, for all, not just for young people, because it would enable greater economic stability than would UBI, whilst at the same time delivering many of the same benefits as UBI (Tchervena, 2012). In support of her argument, she draws on the impact of the Plan Jefes programme in Argentina following the financial crisis of 2001. This was a job guarantee programme aimed at Heads of Households (mostly men), but in practice involving women too, offering four hours of work a day at the minimum wage. Extensive evaluations of the programme have shown the positive impact on the participants, especially on poor women who participated, beyond increased income.

The scheme enabled people to identify specific unmet needs in their families and communities and design jobs to meet those needs. A wide range of work was undertaken, including day care, public libraries, after school activities, tailoring, artistic pursuits, recreation, environmental clean up and recycling, subsistence production and other activities for the public good. After a year the program evolved into Plan Familias, enabling a naturalistic quasi-experiment, comparing experiences across the transition from job guarantee to basic income. Men were offered training and job placement assistance, but women the alternative of a basic income to stay at home: in the pilot area for this change, less than 50% of women made the switch. The impact on the women of paid employment included the learning of basic skills, completion of courses, boosted self-perceptions, feelings of being connected to neighbours and enhanced sense of dignity and pride: collective and individual empowerment was facilitated and women reported increased respect in their households and communities. Being engaged, doing something, helping the community, working in a good environment were all more important to the participants than their increased income. Women wanted to work rather than receive welfare payments of equivalent amounts. Tcherneva argues that income alone does not lead to empowerment: rather empowerment comes from earned income not charitable donations (the reciprocity-exchange relationship discussed by Fryer and Fagan, 2003).

Tcherneva, then, suggests that “a well structured guaranteed employment that offers opportunities for meaningful work at a living wage, counters the precariousness of the labour market by eliminating unemployment, drastically reducing poverty and enhancing the individual freedom to say ‘no’ to bad jobs” (Tcherneva, 2009:184). In the context of the austerity era, she suggests that such a scheme would reverse the decline in public services by focussing on socially useful outputs and public provisioning for all, thus leading to community building and increased social capital at the same time thorough the prioritising of people’s contributions to socially useful activities. By focusing on the needs of those at the ‘bottom’, she argues, job guarantee would also serve a redistributive function , improving the incomes of those at the ‘bottom’ faster than those at the top and transforming the meaning an d purpose of work.

Jobs that focus on mitigating the causes and impact of climate change could also be a part of a job guarantee scheme. Godin (2012) modelled a variation on the job guarantee, the Green Jobs Guarantee (GJ), in which the jobs available are in the improvement of energy efficiency for domestic and public buildings (e.g. via retrofitting insulation). In Godin’s simulation, the GJ is cost effective for the State (in comparison to a conventional Keynesian demand stimulation package) and unlike the conventional job guarantee it does not lead to a boost in energy demand as a consequence, instead decreasing it.

The key distinction between UBI, social security modifications or job guarantee, may well lie in the degree to which people choose work and jobs at their will or are forced to take jobs out of financial necessity. One of the arguments in favour of UBI is that it would enable people the freedom to choose what, how and when to work.

Tcherneva does not dismiss UBI entirely, but concludes that it would be possible to combine the goals of UBI and Job Guarantee. Income guarantees not tied to labour market participation (such as child allowances, old age pensions, disability allowances, healthcare) could be combined with a voluntary employment opportunity through a living wage-benefit-vacation package for those able, ready and willing to work. She calls this a ‘universal guaranteed participation income programme’ (Tcherneva, 2006). Participation is the foundation of participation income proposals.

Participation Income

In 1994, the commission on Social Justice (IPPR, 1994:261-265) explored the possibilities of a citizen’s income, arguing for a modified version based on active citizenship, a participation income. This idea has also been proposed by the economist, Tony Atkinson (Atkinson 1996; 2015). He was concerned with reducing inequalities and both preventing and reducing unemployment, and proposed a version of basic income that replaces the ‘citizen’ eligibility requirement of most UBI proposals, with a ‘participation’ requirement. The qualifying conditions would include:

people working as an employee or self-employed, absent from work on grounds of sickness or injury, unable to work on grounds of disability and unemployed but available for work, it would also include people engaging in approved forms of education or training, caring for young, elderly or disabled dependants or undertaking approved forms of voluntary work, etc. The condition involves neither payment nor work; it is a wider definition of social contribution.” (Atkinson (1996:, 68–69)

Atkinson’s scheme grants a secure income but requires recipients to satisfy a participation requirement as a condition of support. The kinds of participation envisaged are socially useful activities, such as caring for an elderly person, volunteering in a neighbourhood project, engaging in training or studying for a qualification. The qualifying conditions would need to be approved, which in turn would require a mechanism for administering and monitoring participation activities. How, and on what basis participation activities would be approved would need to be worked out, with the obvious danger that such approval could be politically, rather than socially motivated.

The introduction of such a conditional element to the BI is similar to the ‘contribution contract’ proposed by the RSA as part of their model of UBI. The idea here is that all recipients of the BI sign a contract with their local communities to “Contribute to the extent they are able, through earning, learning, caring or setting up a business” (Painter and Thoung, 2015:.20). The suggestion is that such a contract will be a positive affirmation to establish norms, provide social support and underpin the contribution ethos – thereby helping to shift social attitudes values from individual success to social solidarity.

It is unknown whether or not participation, or contribution, requirements for a BI would enhance community building, and whether the breach of one of the core principles of most UBI models, namely that of unconditionally, would weaken the transformative potential of the UBI or strengthen it.

Participatory Civic Economy

Participation is at the heart of the creation of participatory civic economies, currently in their infancy. Rather than thinking about national policies and processes to alleviate poverty, austerity and its negative psychological effects, civic economies are locally focussed and begin with the goal of increasing social solidarity. Drawing on the work of Murray (2009), the Compendium for the Civic Economy (“00/(London)”, 2011:9) describes the civic economy as one designed to “unlock and share the resources we have more effectively. ..It comprises people, ventures and behaviours that fuse innovative ways of doing from the traditional distinct spheres of civil society, the market and the state. Founded on social values and goals and using deeply collaborative approaches to development, production, knowledge sharing and financing, the civic economy generates goods and services and common infrastructures in ways that neither the state nor the market economy alone have been able to accomplish”.

Civic economy approaches, then, aim to alleviate the passivity and isolation of current employment and welfare practices. Furthermore, proponents argue for innovative and new methods of co-producing society, co creating value, cost savings and mechanisms for financing or collective investment. People come together to identify local needs, design and implement projects, producing socially useful products. The approach has been successfully trialled at a neighbourhood level in Lambeth (Open Works, 2016:21), but has yet to be scaled up. This approach is similar to that of the Organisation Workshop, developed in Brazil and implemented in Latin America and Africa (Carmen and Sobrado, 2000; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organization_workshop) and in Marsh Farm, Luton (Imagine, 2016).

Civic economy approaches are participatory and collaborative, local in scale and are a way to regenerate and enhance the resilience of local communities, cities and regions. Examples of civic economy practices highlight the empowering impact of participation, as well as the sense of agency participants feel. The ideas challenge conventional thinking about work, social protection and participation, and so offer an alternative way forward, with positive social benefits, to those of UBI or welfare-employment reform.

So… are there viable alternatives to UBI?

These alternatives to UBI rely on either new packages of policy interventions, guaranteed jobs, or new ways of thinking about relationships between individuals, communities, the market and the state. The proposals do not address the potential UBI has of moving towards greater gender equality, particularly in terms of sharing care. Lister (2017), however, points out that to achieve this would require enhanced parental leave and shorter working weeks (Coote, Franklin and Simms, 2010) – which could be incorporated into either basic income, job guarantee or participatory alternatives.

Further work would be needed to ensure that whatever alternatives are considered, that they deliver the optimal mix of liveable and predictable income; sensitivity to additional needs; equity; encouragement of social solidarity and community contributions; economic stabilisation; ecological beneficence; and political and public feasibility and acceptability. They need to address both the social recognition that paid employment gives with income redistribution.

Perhaps they are not either/ors. Maybe social-good job guarantee schemes, coupled with progressive benefit and tax reform would form a realisable step towards UBI – and may even exist once UBI is in place to moderate the ravages of the market and ensure that the economy is realigned, with a just future of prosperity for all within ecological boundaries.


00:/ (London). (2011). Compendium for the civic economy what the big society should learn from 25 trailblazers. London: 00:/. https://www.scribd.com/document/155665115/Compendium-for-Civic-the-Economy.

Ackerman, B. and Alstott, A. (2004). Why Stakeholding? Politics and Society, 32 (1) 41-60.

Allaker, J. and Cavill, S. (2011) Customer Experience of the Futures Job Fund: Findings from a Qualitative Research Study. London, Department Work and Pensions. http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/10324/1/ihr1.pdf

Atkinson, A.B. (1996). The Case for a participation Income. Political Quarterly, 67 (1), 67-70.

Atkinson, A.B. (2015). Inequality: What can be done? Cambridge, MS., Harvard University Press.

Benach, J., Vives, A., Amable, M., Vanroelen, C., Trafa, G., and Muntaner, C. (2014). Precarious Employment: Understanding an emerging social determinant of health. Annual Review of Public Health, 35, 229-253. http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-032013-182500

Block, F. and Manza, J. (1997). Could We end Poverty in a Postindustrial Society? The case for a Progressive Negative Income Tax. Politics and Society, 25, (4), 473-511

Cadarn Research. (2016, August 23). A short note on basic income and Wales. Retrieved from https://cadarnresearch.wordpress.com/2016/08/23/basic-income/

Carmen, R. and Sobrado, M. (2000). A Future for the Excluded. Job Creation and Income

Generation by the Poor – Clodomir Santos de Morais and the Organization Workshop.

London, Zed Books.

Coote, A., Franklin, J. and Simms, A. (2010). 21Hours: Why a Shorter working Week can Help Us All to Flourish in the 21st Century. London, New Economics Foundation.

Davey, B. (2016). Fantasies of “Socialism with an iPad”?: Inventing the Future by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams: Review [Text]. Retrieved March 6, 2017, from http://www.feasta.org/2016/08/14/fantasies-of-socialism-with-an-ipad-inventing-the-future-by-nick-srnicek-and-alex-williams-review/

Davis, A., Hill, K., Hirsch, D. and Padley, M. (2016). A Minimum Income Standard for the UK in 2016. York, Joseph Rowntree Foundation. https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/minimum-income-standard-uk-2016

DWP (2012). Impact and Costs and Benefits of the Future Jobs Fund. London, UK Government Department of Work and Pensions. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/223120/impacts_costs_benefits_fjf.pdf

Friedman, M. (1962). Capitalism and Freedom. Chicago, University Chicago Press.

Fryer, D. & Fagan, R. (2003). Towards a Critical Community Psychological Perspective on Unemployment and Mental Health. American Journal of Community Psychology, 32 (1/2), 89-96.

Godin, A. (2012). Guaranteed Green Jobs: Sustainable Full Employment (Working Paper No. 722). New York: Levy Economics Institute. Retrieved from http://www.levyinstitute.org/pubs/wp_722.pdf

Harrop, A. (2016a). For Us All. Redesigning Social Security for the 2020’s. London, Fabian Society.

Harrop, A. (2016b). For Us All. Redesigning Social Security for the 2020’s. Appendix 7: Arguments for and against a full basic income. http://www.fabians.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Appendices.pdf

Imagine (2016). Marsh Farm Organisation Workshop: Evaluation Report. https://coanalysis.blog.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/115/2016/07/Final-Evaluation-Document_Summary.pdf

IPPR (2004). Social Justice: Strategies for National Renewal. The Report of the Commission on Social Justice. London, Vintage. http://www.ippr.org/files/publications/pdf/commission-on-social-justice_final_2014.pdf?noredirect=1

JRF (2016a). UK Poverty: Causes, Costs and Solutions. York, Joseph Rowntree Foundation. https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/uk-poverty-causes-costs-and-solutions

JRF (2016b). We Can Solve Poverty in the UK. York, Joseph Rowntree Foundation. https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/we-can-solve-poverty-uk

Lister, R. (2017). Coming Off the Fence on UBI? https://www.compassonline.org.uk/universal-basic-income-coming-off-the-fence/

Mckenzie L. (2014). Getting By: Estates, Class and Culture in Austerity Britain. Bristol, Policy Press.

Murray, R. (2009). Danger and Opportunity: Crisis and the New Social Economy. London, Young Foundation and NESTA.

Coote, A., Franklin, J. and Simms, A. (2010). 21Hours: Why a Shorter working Week can Help Us All to Flourish in the 21st Century. London, New Economics Foundation.

Open Works (2016). Designed to Scale: mass participation to build resilient neighbourhoods. London, Civic Systems Lab. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B28SOnHQM5HVV0pyT2p1NGNvQk0/view

Reed, H. and Lansley, S. (2016). Universal Basic Income: An Idea Whose Time has Come. London, Compass

Srnicek, N. and Willliams, A. (2015). Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a world without work. London, Verso

Standing, G. (2006). CIG, COAG, and COG: A comment on a debate. In B. Ackerman, A. Alstott and P. Van Parjis, Redesigning Distribution: Basic Income and Stakeholder Grants as Cornerstones for an Egalitarian capitalism. London, Verso pp175-195.

Tchervena, P. R. (2012). The Job Guarantee: Delivering the Benefits That Basic Income Only Promises – A Response to Guy Standing. Basic Income Studies, 7 (2) , 66–87

Tcherneva, P.R. (2009). Evaluating the economic and environmental viability of basic income and job guarantees in P. Lawn (ed.) Environment and Employment: A Reconciliation, London: Routledge.

Tcherneva, P. R. (2006). Universal assurances in the public interest: Evaluating the economic viability of basic income and job guarantees. International Journal of Environment, Workplace, and Employment, 2 (1), 69–88.

Varoufakis, Y. (2016, October 31). The Universal Right to Capital Income. Retrieved March 6, 2017, from https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/basic-income-funded-by-capital-income-by-yanis-varoufakis-2016-10

(An edited version of these alternatives appears in Psychologists for Social Change, (2017). Universal Basic Income: A Psychological Impact Assessment. PAA: London) http://www.psychchange.org/uploads/9/7/9/7/97971280/ubi_briefing_low_res.pdf

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Greater Manchester: Towards a retrofit Garden City?

Greater Manchester: Towards a retrofit Garden City?

Alexandra estate and park

Some parts of Greater Manchester could easily be made more like a Garden City. Alexandra Park and Estate.

We have been critical of recent plans in Greater Manchester1 but what might a better approach look like? At our latest conversation event we considered the idea of making the city region more like a garden city. To stimulate our thinking we watched a film, The Urbal Fix, which covered in a very short period of time the ideas of “Urbalism”2 Garden Cities3 and Continuous Urban Productive Landscapes – CUPLs4. We spent the rest of the evening discussing the ideas and what it would take to move Greater Manchester towards becoming a Garden City in small groups (which changed around so everyone got a chance to talk to everyone else). By the end we had identified priorities for action and the immediate steps steady State Manchester could take towards a Greater Manchester Garden City.

What steps would need to be taken to move further along the path towards a retrofit5 garden city for the Greater Manchester region?

Priorities and things SSM could do:

  1. Create some exemplars (small scale) in different localities,
  2. Making a political proposal to GMCA/new mayor – about retrofit garden city of Grater Manchester
  3. Develop new land ownership models and approaches – pooling land e.g. community land trusts

SSM could:

Ebenezer Howard's idealised Garden City design

Ebenezer Howard’s idealised Garden City design

  1. Highlight the building blocks on which we can build; examples of good practice; opportunities; communities.
  2. Support a better network of existing green projects and facilitating or curating better networking of community projects.
  3. Help to influence alternative vision of the city – (including with new Greater Manchester Mayor, new chief officer of Manchester City Council?).

Other steps to be taken:

Political will


New leadership;

Advocates, activists!;

Gorton South MP – labour candidate influence priorities of new MP;

Andy Burnham most likely mayor of Greater Manchester. Influence his first 100 days in office – manifesto;

Collective vision;

A clever economist (to make it pay);

Tipping point (Joanne Roney new Chief Executive in Manchester Town Hall)?

Vision and strategy

Political agenda in GM;

Produce a coherent vision of this different Greater Manchester;

Prepare and present ideas to councils; interest groups of citizens etc;

Develop vision with buy in at all levels, Garden City?;

Prioritise the outer town centres – Ashton, Hyde etc;

Old council estates with houses and gardens – could be transformed to garden city?;

Enter these ideas into the debate/mobilisation of GMSF, tower blocks etc;

Link to current strategies: climate change (mitigation and adaptation), transport, green infrastructure;

Joined up garden city strategy – bottom up and top down;

Top down becomes equal to bottom up governance;

Do some work on the unsaid elements – industry, money…;

New land ownership models/approach ‘pooling’ land;

Planning permission, land trusts;

Create and distribute pattern ‘recipes’ to follow for food and regenerative gardening in each architectural style;


Capturing political imagination of people;

Spread the word; explore ideal further;

Utilising brown field sites – how to do this? Showcase contaminated sites;

Reframe current mini-exemplars within a garden city/ Urbal story;

City-wide marketing campaign towards this as a unified goal;

Public debate of alternative policies (alternatives to GMSF);

Increase and keep increasing the proportion of citizens with awareness of and the will to increase green infrastructure;

Learning and education

Learning from existing growing projects;

Education for everyone – start young!;

Do a process like this with more people/groups;

Climate change adaptation;

Chats Moss; upland peat;

Ecological – permaculture; easy ecological gardening;

Capacity building – planners; communities; designers; visionaries;

Join up the many smaller initiatives into a cohesive campaign.

Engagement and networking

Network of community projects;

Engagement of local businesses e.g. breweries;

Connecting places – to each other and to nature;

Better networking of existing green projects – issue of competitivity;

Support set up of place-based production – such as baking, food processing;

Organised green civil society/community groups.

Practical actions

Funding for ‘public goods’ eg allotments, parks;

Build with decent sized homes and gardens;

More job sharing- leads to more time, less stress;

Enhance canal infrastructure;

Car free days (impossible perhaps? -[ why not? – see Europe]);

Small ‘demonstration’ projects at street and neighbourhood level to start momentum building;

Gardening information centres – Cuban style ‘kiosks’ with information and seeds.

What Features of Urbal or Garden City do we already have in Greater Manchester?


(Some) political will;

City-wide government;

Collaboration (of sorts across combined authority cities and boroughs;

Peripheral councils beginning to adopt alternative model of governance eg Oldham, Wigan;


Resource hungry City – carbon dependent;

Austerity cuts


The Green Belt;

Exburbs’: North- wind, water, power; south – Cheshire plain, food!;

Canal network;

(some) cycle paths eg Fallowfield loop;

Railway verge;

Linear green spaces (river valleys etc);

Parks – food production, community involvement social focus;

Online purchasing – shopping centres could become communal/leisure/social space;

Dense urban centres (compact is good);

Radial routes (like Ebenezer Howard model);

Low land prices;

Availability of land – brownfield;

Lots of growing space but not all in the right place;

Green infrastructure – corridors into the city;

Blue infrastructure – rivers and canals


Gardens, allotments (culture of gardening emphasis on physical exercise – cycling;

Local initiatives eg Gorton growing local food, also social enterprises;

Have all the tools – do we need a tipping point?;

Potential for green gardens;

Allotments; network of allotment sites;

Empty gardens;

Manchester city of Trees;

Built environment

Urban villages around edges of GM;

Tall building s and lots of rain (good);

Pedestrianised areas – hard spaces but could be greened

Pollution ;

More floods;


Improving public transport network;

Canals, trams, roads (busy)


Cohesive communities;

Parks – social focus;

Changing patterns of shopping – shopping centres could become social spaces;

Existing towns and villages as local centres;

People’s willingness to change and adapt;

Cultural and sports facilities;

Apple Tree Court (Salford) – social capital and experience


Can learn from: Kindling Trust, Veg box projects, Unicorn farm, Green slate farm, Glebelands, Food Wythenshawe etc;

Hulme Community Garden Centre;

Ordsall Hall garden and education centre; seed library;

Unicorn grocers and suppliers

Worsley hall – RHS;

Biospheric Foundation (gone but not forgotten);

Exemplar schemes eg market garden in Mersey Valley; coops; renewables;

Historical partial garden city implementations, garden suburbs, garden villages (Chorltonville, Alkrington, even Wythenshawe with their positives and limitations).

..and there will be many more..

2 From urban-rural, making the city more rural, an inversion of “Rurban”, the urbanisation of the country, see Bliss, T. (2010). Urbalism – the development of resilent “outside-in” cities. https://urbalblog.wordpress.com/urbalism/

3 See TCPA Garden City Principles: https://www.tcpa.org.uk/garden-city-principles (The Urbal film gives a clear explanation and contextualisation of Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City concept).

4 See the work of Andre Viljoen and Katrin Bohn, http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/research/sustainability-network/cpul, and an online version of their book: Continuous Urban Productive Landscapes http://library.uniteddiversity.coop/Food/Continuous_Productive_Urban_Landscapes.pdf (CUPLs is also explained in the Urbal film).

5 The idea here is to work from the existing layout and add in the features of the garden city. This is the approach taken by Tom Bliss in his Urbal films and also in this working paper from Catherine Barlow at University of Salford: http://www.retrofit2050.org.uk/sites/default/files/resources/WorkingpaperCB_FINAL_29012014.pdf

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