Richard Lee (Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK) considers the implications for approaches to local/regional development in England.

In this talk Richard Lee will present some findings from a collaborative BA/Leverhulme small grant project (drawing on repeat interviews with food bank co-ordinators), to consider the implications for approaches to local/regional development in England.

In England, referrals to VCOs providing food assistance increase year on year, raising important questions about organisational capacity, the desirability of transactional models and welfare provision for vulnerable service users. The diversification of provision poses significant challenges to local authorities seeking to implement strategic approaches.

It is important to understand the experiences of former industrial regions, particularly given the ongoing impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the cost-of-living crisis. Northumberland (a large, diverse county of former mining, fishing, tourist, agricultural, rural and new settlements) is representative of such regions and within which provision has begun to mature and diversify.

Little is known about how organisations are seeking to diversify and expand into other areas of social infrastructure (welfare provision and advice, community development, education etc) or the rationales and competing agendas at work and the potential impacts on vulnerable populations. A decade on from the implementation of austerity in the UK (and elsewhere) and the discourse of the ‘Big Society’ (and the longer run of neoliberalism), and via the on-going fallout of Brexit and Covid 19, the current Conservative government is seeking to continue the shifting of responsibility (and liability) onto already disadvantaged communities and regions feeling the significant strain of low incomes, insecure work and underfunded public services (see New Social Covenant, 2021 as an example of this approach).

As Janet Poppendieck has restated (in the context of Covid 19), “Hunger, food insecurity, is fundamentally an income problem, not a food problem.” (Poppendieck, 2020).

Organised by Cecily Maller and Ben Cooke, for the People and Environment Program in the Centre for Urban Research.


Online via Teams


29 September 2022