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Report calls for accelerated action for the valleys

July 26th 2019

Our latest report, Prosperous valleys, resilient communities, calls on the Ministerial Taskforce for the Valleys to double its efforts.

The south Wales valleys are home to approximately 800,000 people and 300,000 jobs. They make a substantial contribution to the Welsh economy, but also suffer from significant structural economic weaknesses. The Bevan Foundation says addressing these economic problems should be the taskforce’s priority. It calls on Ministers to focus on building economic resilience, develop ‘anchor towns’ and ensure effective delivery.

Helen Cunningham, Project Officer at the Bevan Foundation  said: “Demands for economic justice and inclusive, equitable growth have gained momentum with good reason. We advocate building on the valleys’ many strengths and focusing on long-term economic solutions. The taskforce needs an effective strategy for building economic resilience rather than a hotch-potch of small-scale actions.”

One of our key recommendations in the report is the development of ‘anchor towns’ in the valleys. Anchor towns have a substantial population within 15-20 minutes travel, are home to public bodies such as local authorities, further education colleges and health boards, and offer range of services such as banks, post offices and shops. Put together, the buying power of public services and the spending power of the local population could transform valleys towns. Helen Cunningham said: “The taskforce has already designated eight places as ‘hubs’ but we think that ‘anchor towns’ should be the next step.  They can help to counter the draw of Cardiff and harness the power of the local  foundational economy.”

Whilst acknowledging that the taskforce is shifting its approach, there is still scope to do more.  The report urges the taskforce to prioritise the heads and the “hearts” of the valleys, and to ensure it can deliver change in the long term. Helen Cunningham added: “There are no simple solutions to the challenges facing the south Wales valleys. The recommendations in our report should be taken as a whole to help build more economically resilient, fair and prosperous valleys. Our starting point is a belief that the valleys are far from a lost cause. They have immense opportunities and potential. The future of the Welsh economy and the valleys are also inextricably linked and neither can afford to continue on the same path.”

The full report is available here

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