New £40 million fund to tackle regional inequality

Independent trust Power to Change unveils new programmes to address regional inequality.

Three new funding programmes from Power to Change will support a total of 15 English wards, cities and regions, many of which have fallen behind the rest of the country in economic growth.

The total investment, of up to £40 million, is announced the day after the latest government statistics showed regional inequality persisting. In the course of the last quarter, the East of England lost 36,000 jobs whilst the West Midlands gained 65,000.

At the end of 2016 Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England, warned that regional inequality was ‘right up there as among the most important issues that we face today as a country’.

Power to Change’s programmes aim to boost local economies, while trusting local people to shape services which will benefit the whole area. It will do this by funding more community businesses to take root in each of these places.

The programmes continue Power to Change’s commitment to back the biggest and boldest ideas emerging from communities, including work in partnership with Marks & Spencer which combines funding with gold standard retail training for new community businesses.

All three will identify and support people in these places who, with the right resources, can design and deliver community businesses which will help the local area thrive.

The 15 places are:

North West

  • Liverpool city region with focus on Toxteth and Dingle (with M&S)
  • Rochdale (with M&S)
  • Wigan (Abram)
North East

  • Hartlepool (Dyke House)
  • Middlesborough (with M&S)
Yorkshire & Humber

  • Bradford (with M&S) with focus on Manningham
  •  Grimsby (Southward, Nunsthorpe and Bradley Park)
East of England

  • Luton (Northwell)
  • Norwich (with M&S)
  • Suffolk rural

  • Birmingham (Handsworth and Handsworth Wood) with M&S
  •  Leicester (Braunstone)

  • London borough of Newham (with M&S)


South West

  • Bristol city region
  • Plymouth (Devonport and Stonehouse)

Vidhya Alakeson, Chief Executive of Power to Change, said:

There has been endless talk about bringing our regional economy into robust shape, from Northern Powerhouses to Midlands Engines. But we know from experience that promises made in Whitehall too seldom make a real impact in the communities where people live.

Power to Change has always been committed to supporting the biggest and boldest ideas people have for transforming their neighbourhoods. These programmes continue our commitment, putting power into their hands and trusting them to get on with it.

It isn’t just about pouring in money, but about making sure local networks have all the support they need, including research, communications and policy planning. This is a major initiative and where we see signs of success we intend to invest well into the future’.



 1.Interested in Empowering Places?

If you live in one of the Empowering Places programme places on this page, please get in touch with your local catalyst directly to see how you could get involved in creating new community businesses in your area. If you live in one of the areas we will be supporting community businesses with M&S or if you live in one of the Cities and Counties we are investing in please sign up to our newsletter. More information will be released soon.

For any other queries, please email

2.Government statistics on regional growth were published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics Andy Haldane’s comments were made to the BBC in December 2006

3.For more information on Power to Change’s programme of work in partnership with Marks & Spencer’s, see

4.Power to Change is investing in local places through three programmes.

– The Empowering Places programme, worth up to £10million over the next five years

– Our Cities and Rural programme, worth up to £30million over the next five years

– Our partnership with M&S on its Plan A 2025, worth up to £1million over the next two years

5.Figures are based on projected local need and capacity, which may develop in the course of the projects.

6.Power to Change is an independent trust, whose funding is used to strengthen community businesses across England. At a time when many parts of the UK face cuts, neglect and social problems, we are helping local people come together to take control, and make sure their local areas survive and stay vibrant. You can find out more about our work in places here.