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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Business for a purpose: Growing the civic core of the Northern Powerhouse

The north of England has a long and proud history of civic-minded enterprise. Many northern businesses, large and small, are longstanding institutions that provide significant value to their area, above and beyond their role as employers and taxpayers. Many more are already rethinking their civic role in relation to their staff, their supply chain and their impact upon the environment.

However, the scale and nature of the challenges faced, from low pay and poverty, to productivity and the skills gap, to climate change, mean that, a step change is needed in the purpose and practice of private sector enterprise. Although there are many good examples of civic-minded business, too many businesses exhibit behaviour that is short-termist and extractive.

This report seeks to understand the role of business in the 21st century North. It explores how we might support, sustain and incentivise greater social purpose among private sector organisations, working in collaboration with partners from across all sectors. It sets out what role the state can play to encourage, develop and sustain this type of activity and provides recommendations for the local, northern and national scale.