Earlier this week we released the latest in their series of insights into public attitudes, entitled: Public attitudes to economic development – How the public views investment in places.

Following the recent launch of the National Infrastructure Strategy, which confirmed a local, place-based ‘levelling up’ Infrastructure Fund, this research report explores public priorities for investment in the places where they live and their opinion on which institutions should play an important role in these decisions. We surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,038 people to explore these themes.

The research showed that the public want tangible investment in social infrastructure in their community and that they don’t believe that central government solely holds the answer to the ‘levelling up’ agenda. 56% of respondents thought that central government didn’t fully understand  the challenges and opportunities in the area they lived in, and the majority believe their local council has the most important role to play in investing in the future of their area.

Our findings have also revealed that the public generally has a low level of awareness about economic development in their area, with 61% of respondents stating that they were unaware of any plans or visions in the area that they lived. On top of this, 59% of respondents who had heard of a plan or vision stated that they hadn’t had any involvement in it. We recommended closer engagement with more emphasis on creating benefits for people that they can understand to combat this general level of public apathy for local investment projects.

James Gore, Director of Economic Development at Copper said “While the results of our research do vary between regions, the overall picture which emerges does not conform to preconceived ideas of a nation divided on geographical lines. Instead, we see an opportunity to galvanise the regeneration of towns and cities right across the UK by offering citizens the chance to shape strategies and visions on their terms”

Based on the findings set out in the report, we have established five steps for organisations seeking to engage the UK public in planning the future of places.

  • Move away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to consultation in favour of tailored options which enable local people to engage on their terms in whatever time they are willing to spare.
  • Make use of digital tools alongside traditional face-to-face engagement to bring more people into the conversation.
  • Be positive about the benefits of your project and tap into the strong public support for investment in housing, renewable energy and waste recycling, encouraging local people to be advocates for investment
  • Build a coalition of partners across central and local government and the private sector, maximising funding and building confidence in your ability to deliver positive outcomes
  • Maintain channels of communication throughout development and delivery, celebrating milestones to demonstrate progress towards shared goals

You can read our full attitudes library here.