The Everyday Economy in three valleys towns

Economy A photo of a Welsh Valleys town
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ProjectsFebruary 20th, 2020

What helps or hinders the growth of the everyday economy in the valleys?

This project seeks to explore the circumstances and conditions that affect the everyday (foundational) economy in different parts of the valleys.

Why focus on the valleys?

The south Wales valleys are said to be an ideal place where the everyday (foundational) economy can be developed.  A commitment to increase the number of jobs in the everyday economy was included in the Valleys Task Force delivery plan in 2017, and the approach continues to be a high priority for the Welsh Government.

Some places in the valleys are experiencing growth in the everyday economy, with new retailing, businesses, cafes and hairdressers. However, some towns and villages are experiencing a contraction, with local banks, post offices, food shops and bus services closing.  These variations within the everyday economy across the south Wales valleys suggest that some places may be better placed than others to grasp the potential.

The project will identify what the opportunities and barriers to supporting and developing these economic policies by working in partnership with three distinct communities in the south Wales valleys. They are:

What does the project aim to achieve?

The everyday economy has gained real traction over the past few years and is now firmly on the Welsh Government’s policy agenda. For a brief explanation of the everyday (foundational) economy see our factsheet here

Understanding the pre-conditions of growing the everyday economy in response to the different circumstances of different places can help ensure that public policy and resources are effectively targeted, and that the potential of the everyday economy is maximised. The project will

  • Identify the essential conditions for the everyday economy to grow
  • Recommend actions needed in areas with more limited opportunities to grow it
  • Recommend actions that maximise and add value for areas that are already well placed to experience a growth in the everyday economy.
  • Increase community and public understanding of the everyday economy


In August 2020 we released The business potential of the foundational economy in the south Wales valleys” based on our work with local businesses in the three communities over May and June 2020. We found that:

  • In all three communities there are businesses with potential to grow. The vast majority of these businesses are small businesses, micro-businesses and the self-employed.
  • New businesses are being established and existing businesses are adapting and growing new activities.
  • Many businesses had plans for expansion before the coronavirus pandemic, and despite the challenges of lock down, have confidence that they can bounce back.

In December 2020 we released “Transforming places: Lessons from across the UK” that looks at five places in the UK that have transformed their fortunes and whether the lessons could be used in communities in Wales to push for the same. It highlights:

  • Examples of bottom up community action, encouragement of self-sustaining businesses, building on a unique USP as a platform for change, and even one town taking control of a local council to push through radical reforms.
  • The power of the local community in being actors in the positive changes and that any regeneration of places in Wales must ensure that the local population see direct benefits.

In January 2021 we released “Understanding Treherbert, Cwmafan and Treharris : The past, present and the future”. The report looks to understand the past of these places that have shaped their present and could hint at their future. It looks at their similarities but also each’s unique characteristics to understand how they may develop, what the existing assets are and what needs to be grasped so each reaches its full potential.

In March 2021 we released “Consumer spending in the foundational economy”. The report looks to understand spending patterns and abilities in each community as successful growth of the foundational economy depends in part on the spending power of the local population. The report highlights that all places have a core of foundational goods and services, especially in the ‘overlooked’ economy like retail, hair and beauty, takeaways, eating out and recreation and leisure.  However spend is leaking out to nationally-owned stores, online vendors and places beyond the local community, with a perception that there is limited choice locally.  More positively, it found that there is loyalty to local businesses and strong relationships, which can form the basis for regenerating local economic activity. 

The project completed with a report making essential recommendations to the Welsh Government and other bodies entitled ‘Making the economy work for small places‘.

This project is funded by the Welsh Government’s Foundational Economy Challenge Fund


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