Barclays launches initiative to build thriving local economies

20 September 2018

Bury announced as first pilot area for major five-year programme

Barclays to partner with Demos Projects, local authorities, academics, business groups, schools and others

Aim to build national framework from local insight


Barclays is joining forces with local authorities, academics, schools and business groups to boost local economic growth, under a major five-year programme announced today.

The Building Thriving Local Economies initiative has been launched by Ashok Vaswani, Barclays UK CEO, in order to help ensure that every part of the country can fulfil its potential and inform what companies like Barclays can do to help economies to thrive.

Four pilot areas will be created in geographically different parts of the country. One will represent a metropolitan borough, one a rural community, one a coastal area and the fourth a smaller town.  In each pilot area Barclays will undertake research and use data to better understand the local economy’s strengths and challenges.

The bank will share findings with the local authority, school leaders, business groups and others to build insight and shape actions that they will commit to take in the community – in addition to the everyday products and services they offer – to help build a more thriving economy.

Bury, in Greater Manchester, has been chosen as the first local economy pilot for the programme. Demos Projects and Barclays will be working closely with Bury Metropolitan Borough Council, local schools and colleges, local businesses and business groups.

Helping build confidence

As a first step Barclays has committed to help build confidence and raise aspirations of school children in Bury by providing a bespoke version of the banks’ LifeSkills programme, which has already helped over 6.7 million young people in the UK, tailored to the local community.

Launching the programme at Castlebrook High School in Bury today, Ashok Vaswani, said:

“At a time of economic uncertainty, we need to ensure that every part of the UK can thrive in order that our whole country can prosper. We see pockets of high growth in our major cities but more needs to be done to support towns like Bury to become stronger engines of local and national prosperity.

“There is no single lever that national governments or central banks can pull to drive economic growth. I truly believe that our future economic success will be driven by people in places like Bury. We need to look at how we build a thriving economy ‘from the local up’ not from the national down.”

Building a thriving economy

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “I can’t wait to see how the work in Bury progresses. I am pleased by the commitment that Barclays is showing to Bury with their Thriving Local Economies initiative. A three-year partnership with businesses, schools and the Local Authority will, I hope, see the community continue to thrive. I wish all concerned the best.”

Rishi Shori, Leader of Bury Metropolitan Borough Council, said: “Bury is open for business, and ensuring that our economy flourishes is among the most important priorities for this council. Bury has many strengths, not least as an attractive place to live. We need to build on this, working with partners in education, training and commerce to make our borough a home to highly skilled, well paid work and innovative, thriving businesses.” 

James Frith MP, Bury North, said: “We have everything we need right here in Bury to make our town the best it can be. I'm delighted that Barclays recognises the important contribution of towns like Bury to the future of our country's success and I welcome their commitment to work holistically with businesses, schools and the local authority in a sustained way to help our economy thrive.

"The combination of gathering evidence to identify challenges and opportunities, work with our schools to improve skills and confidence and support for the small businesses which are the lifeblood of our town is really positive and I'm excited to work with them over the next few years to boost our local economy and deliver greater prosperity to the people of our town.”

Jake Berry MP, Northern Powerhouse Minister said: The Northern Powerhouse is about creating jobs and economic growth - initiatives such as Barclays’ ‘Building Thriving Local Economies’ play a critical role in supporting this. It is fantastic that the Northern Power town of Bury will benefit from the first pilot with its research helping to inform the provision of skills and training while helping local businesses to grow and flourish.” 

Elizabeth Clark, CEO of Dream Agility in Ramsbottom, said: “The jobs of the future are not the jobs of now, it’s business and community working together that will prepare everyone the soonest, not waiting for government to feed it through the system. The borough of Bury is well connected and its people are highly motivated, we are the perfect choice to champion this ambitious initiative.”

Rob Keeling, CEO of Airpure in Bury, said: "We are excited to be a part of this great initiative undertaken by Barclays, at a time where we are facing uncertainty from the outcome of Brexit, this is a great step taken by Barclays to combine their expertise and support network with local businesses."

Phil Collins, Chief Executive of Demos Projects, said: “There are parts of Britain that have not shared in the prosperity enjoyed by the nation at large. There is a lot of talk about this but I am excited that Demos Projects and Barclays are bringing together all the relevant players to act, to make a genuine difference for the better.”

Find out more at Home.Barclays/Thriving-Local-Economies


  • Building Thriving Local Economies will focus on understanding needs and opportunities on the ground in pilot sites in four different parts of the country, representing four different types of place (a metropolitan borough, a rural community, a coastal area and a smaller town). Each pilot will last for three years. Their launches will be staggered, meaning that the initiative overall is a five-year commitment.


  • The initiative will focus on four key areas
    • Understanding the Local Economy – it is really important for businesses and local decision-makers to understand the real strengths and opportunities in the local economy itself and as that local economy relates to the broader economy
    • Skills and Training – it is vital that local people know the skills needed to maximise their potential in the jobs market and have opportunities to access the training needed to get them
    • Aspiration and Confidence – having a sense of aspiration and self-confidence when looking for a job; particularly among school leavers is vital
    • Growing Businesses – smaller businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, helping them grow will be crucial to our future economic success as a nation


  • In each pilot Barclays will undertake analysis of the local economy. This, in turn, will provide insight into the skills and training needs, driving aspiration and confidence, with the aim of helping businesses to grow. We will engage local decision-makers, schools and colleges, businesses and business groups to get their views. Working with these partners will inform specific actions which Barclays will commit to take under each of the four areas above.


  • Barclays will measure the impact of what we do, and share the results publicly at regular intervals. We will be transparent around where our actions have had success and, equally, where our intervention may not have had the impact we had hoped. We can learn as much from what fails as what works.


  • Barclays will share our learnings locally and with national decision-makers to help inform the debate about how we deliver the best economic model for our country and build a national framework of action.