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Learning needs analysis for funding advisors

February 19, 2010

As part of our work to develop East Midlands Funding Advice Network (EMFAN) we have completed a report about the learning needs of funding advisors.  The EMFAN project will soon be moving to a new host and will then begin a learning programme to respond to the needs identified in the analysis.

Please have a look at the report if you are a funding advisor or development  worker – voluntary, public or private sector – and have a think about what it means for you and your service.  If there is more you would like to say about training, skills and knowledge we want to hear from you – the process of identifying learning needs doesn’t stop here.

Incidentally we used to run our survey and had a great response, with 111 people taking part and the vast majority of these making it to the end of what was a pretty lengthy survey.  Thank you to all those who took part.

View this document on Scribd

Environmental boundaries and the economy – ARO Network report

January 27, 2010

As promised, here’s the first part of the ARO network report, covering speakers from New Economics Foundation (NEF) and Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

Dr. Eva Neizart from NEF spoke on the Regional Index of Sustainable Wellbeing (R-ISEW); an alternative measure of a region’s performance to the traditional Gross Domestic Product and Gross Value Added. The R-ISEW has been developed by NEF with the regional development agencies (RDAs), led by East Midlands Development Agency. Eva began by noting that a colleague of her’s had floated a similar idea for a presentation to an RDA four years ago only to be told that they weren’t interested! Clearly thinking has moved on, at least a little, in the intervening years.

To remain within our environmental limits and ensure global social justice, NEF calculate that the UK’s GDP must fall by 25% by 2050 on today’s levels. Eva acknowledged that this isn’t a very easy sell (!), and used that as a springboard for an alternative means of measuring our progress as a society. GDP is actually a hangover from measuring national production during World War II, and criticism of its continued use is by no means new. However, climate change’s emergence as a major policy issue has sharpened these concerns in recent years.

The R-ISEW adjusts GDP for negative effects such as those on the environment and society while adding in the value of positive factors which aren’t included, such as voluntary work, health and education expenditure (Wikipedia has useful, basic explainer here). It is currently being used alongside GDP and GVA by RDAs includng our own. In recent evidence to the East Midlands Regional Committee the index is still described as “relatively new” with central government still judging RDA performance through GDP measurement.

This reflects a fundamental issue raised by this discussion. For measures other than GDP to become politically acceptable, a more open debate about our aspirations and priorities as a society is needed. There is also a challenge for economists to come up with a model for the kind of managed ‘de-growth’ implied by a move away from GDP.

Stephen Hall from DEFRA touched on these themes in a presentation on government’s sustainable development indicators. Rather than taking a number of different aspects of sustainability and rolling them into a single index, DEFRA have opted to maintain a suite of separate indicators measuring factors as diverse as individuals’ feelings about their own actions, access to green space and mental health.

Publishing a slimmed down set of ‘wellbeing’ indicators did indeed spark the kind of debate referred to by Eva Neizart, with extensive press coverage and discussion of which aspects of life are most important to our day-to-day happiness. However, Stephen also highlighted that the policy implications of taking these indicators seriously has not yet become clear.

Questions from the floor included challenging the absence of population from the indicators; described as the “elephant in the room”. Eva countered that runaway consumption in rich countries far outstrips population as the key to respecting environmental limits (more on this view here).

An interesting contradiction also emerged around the monetising of environmental and social factors. For some it was an essential pre-requisite to getting such issues taking seriously at the ‘policy table’. However, does such monetisation also prolong an unhelpful view of the world solely in numerical terms? No easy answers, but great points made by colleagues and just the sort of reflection these events are so useful for.

Insightful presentations providing great context for the work being done in this area by the regional observatories. But more of that another time, unless any other bloggers want to take up the task…?

PS An essential starting place for this area is the Sustainable Development Commission’s “Prosperity Without Growth” report from last year. Great primer/overview over on the West Midlands Regional Observatory blog, including a link to the full report.

Environmental Limits on Returning to Economic Growth

January 27, 2010

Representing the East Midlands today at the latest ARO network event on a key topic in public policy. Speakers from DEFRA, New Economics Foundation and regional observatories from around the country. More later…

Important announcement about Regeneration East Midlands.

January 22, 2010

A letter to all our partners:

At their meeting this week, the Regeneration East Midlands (REM) Board agreed that the company should cease trading on 31st March 2010.

The reason for this is that there is increasing concern that the funds needed to support organisations like REM and their delivery activities are becoming increasingly scarce. This situation will not ease next year, and is likely to become even more challenging as all partners face mounting pressures on their budgets.

So it is with great reluctance that the Board has decided to take the unpalatable but necessary step of winding the company up. The Board was, though, keen to reassure all partners that we will continue to deliver our activities up to the end of March.

Some of our current activities are funded beyond this current year and we are discussing future possible bases for those services with funding partners and other stakeholders.

If you have any enquiries about this please contact Kevin Edwards, who has been engaged to help the company, its Board and staff through this difficult period.

Kevin can be contacted on 07815 699401 or through the REM offices. Alternatively you can email him at or

It’s not easy being green…UPG hope to help

December 16, 2009

                                                                               The UPG are holding a free Climate Change and the Urban Agenda event at Biocity, Pennyfoot Street, Nottingham on January 19th 2010.

The event will play host to some of the region’s leading experts on Climate Change and showcase examples of the regions’ best practice in the changing climate. The event will provide a platform for discussion and learning surrounding climate change and urban spatial planning, whilst looking at how cities can grow under the consideration of its varying impacts, codes and standards.

Speakers include: Helen Chadwick and Paul Bland from EMRA and Professor Richatrd Dawson from Newcastle University not including the best practice examples from accross the region.

The event will run from 9:30- 12:50 with a networking lunch to enhance existing networks to follow. For more information and to register please contact Deborah Booth on

Homing in on the real issue…CABE release new document on house building

December 16, 2009


CABE release new document entitled ‘Who should build our homes?’

 With the current downturn in the housing market the debate concerning who should be building our homes  has come up again. Should we be looking at multiple housing suppliers to be constructing our homes hoping that this will keep prices low but up quality or should we be looking towards new models of home creation?

Who should build our homes? presents six essays by experts across the sector offering their own ideas and challenges to the ‘norm’.

Click here to go to Who should build our homes?


December 11, 2009

Released by (primarily) the Audit Commission, the first results of Comprehensive Area Assessment. Here you can see how local public services are performing in England, if they provide value for money and where they could improve. There are red and green flags used – red indicating that the authorities in that area need to improve something, green that they are excelling at something and that this practice could be shared.

See here