Inclusive growth: what does it look like?

This paper seeks to illuminate tangible examples of inclusive growth in Scotland, with a view to translating successes even if small in scale and sharing learning to inform future improvements in delivery.

Part 3 – inclusive growth interventions

Inclusive growth case studies

As part of this project, we have attempted to gather examples of inclusive growth case studies underway in Scotland. Table 2 shows indicative examples of inclusive growth in practice gathered from across Scotland. Nation-level examples are drawn from indicators in the National Performance Framework.

Table 2. Inclusive growth case studies
Case study Overview Points of interest
Midsteeple Quarter, Dumfries A community-led redevelopment of a group of buildings on the high street into a work-live quarter Community ownership; community business models; future of the high street; culture-led development
Edinburgh University procurement through the Data-Driven Innovation programme within the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal Exploring procurement as a tool to delivering inclusive growth outcomes at scale Embedding inclusive growth outcomes at sub-contractor level;
Clyde Gateway Scotland’s largest regeneration project, running over 20 years in the East End of Glasgow, working to tackle health and employment challenges among an expansive programme of work Routes into good work for long term unemployed; employability; collaboration with public sector employers
Riverside Dalmarnock housing development A mixed-tenure housing development led by Link Group and McTaggart Construction, supported by work, learning and training opportunities and a community enhancement programme Work and training; community development;

Case study 1: Midsteeple quarter

Midsteeple quarter is a community-owned initiative in Dumfries that is developing a set of buildings on the high street into a work-live quarter. Midsteeple quarter is Scotland, and the UK’s, first community-owned development of a high street, led by the Midsteeple Quarter Community Benefit Society.

Midsteeple quarter’s development was spearheaded by the Stove Network, an arts and community group based in Dumfries High Street which had already taken ownership of an empty shop building at 100 High Street through a council transfer, which the network run as a community arts centre and workspace. The Stove Network is the only artist-led Community Development Trust in the UK (Lee and Swann 2020).

Intensive community consultation led by the Stove Network and other local groups identified a shared objective of bringing empty property on the high street back into community use. Much of the property on the high street had long sat empty as retail moved out and property was bought up and often fallen into disrepair under ‘faceless’ absentee owners. Discussions turned to community ownership as the solution to the under-used space that sat empty under distant owners, with the ambition to break the cycle of high street decline by putting assets and decision-making in the hands of local people, working for the benefit of the community. The de-population of the town centre was identified as a key component of the decline of the high street, as residents had been pushed out of the central quarter as property had been bought up by commercial owners without roots in the community. Bringing high street property back into use to provide housing for local people and alongside space for people to work and meet became the central objective of the project.

The design of Midsteeple Quarter’s regeneration was shaped by community workshops, which involved council leaders and the South of Scotland enterprise and skills agency, but were led by community groups. It became clear that housing budgets would not stretch to match the ambition of the emerging plans, but match funding to support regeneration emerged as a model that could support the novel ambition of the redevelopment. Funding was secured from Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Town Centre Living Fund, and the Midsteeple Quarter Community Benefit Society was established in 2017. The Community Benefit Society is open to all, but only people and businesses resident in postcodes covering the local area have voting rights. In 2020, the society had 400 members who are all part-owners and elected board that oversees the day-to-day management and delivery of the project (Lee and Swann 2020).

The Midsteeple quarter redevelopment began in November 2018 with an application for a Community Asset Transfer of a building on the High Street known as ‘The Oven’ (formerly known as ‘the Bakers Oven’) which had laid empty since 2009 when its ownership was transferred to the council, until it had begun to be used as a ‘pop-up venue’ for local charities and community groups. Since November 2018, it has been used for ‘creative activities with a public focus’ and run by a small team who have tested out the space and local demand. Work on the oven site constitutes phase 1 of a planned 5 phase project, which should see a set of properties on the high street come into community ownership.

In 2018/19, the project was awarded £20,000 from the South of Scotland Economic Partnership (SOSEP) to undertake a feasibility study to produce a ‘strategic visioning document’. SOSEP provided further support of £259,500 in 2019/20 towards the cost of a project officer to coordinate and drive forward the regeneration activity in the Midsteeple Quarter area as well as contributing towards the purchase of two properties to facilitate future phases of the community focused town centre re-development project.

The plan aims to establish creative industries workspace and affordable town centre accommodation. This will include over 60 new homes and 50 new commercial spaces within a town block which will be home to some 200 people.

Plans for Midsteeple Quarter’s regeneration are founded on three key principles, as laid out in the 2020 ‘A Blueprint for the heart of Dumfries’:

1. The local community taking the lead on redevelopment

2. Repopulating the town centre by creating high-quality affordable housing on upper floors

3. Dynamic, engaging street-level activity supporting a mixed and vibrant local economy

‘Meanwhile use’ of high street buildings – where access is maintained through the asset transfer process – has already proved critical as plans for the regeneration of The Oven were underway, as Midsteeple Quarter continued to use the space for community groups and pop-up initiatives. Plans for subsequent phases include the ‘meanwhile use’ of buildings on the high street, a mechanism that has been highlighted as an important tool through which local authorities can support plans to bring buildings ‘back into immediate life on the high street’ (Lee and Swann 2020).

Funding was a core challenge for Midsteeple Quarter’s ambitions, which stretched beyond the traditional realm of housing budgets. As David Cowan put it, there’s ‘no [single] piece of money that supports this approach’. Regeneration offered a model more akin to the project’s community-led priorities and need for flexible funding, which fit more closely into place-based approaches being led by the likes of Scotland’s Towns Partnership.

“The town centre is now home to a thriving creative economy which is creating a demand for space and services. This creative vibrancy will shape the character of the Midsteeple Quarter for people working in the town, residents and visitors. Ultimately it will enhance Dumfries as a place in its own right, recognising the town’s role in Scotland’s future.”

The hyper-local approach taken by Midsteeple Quarter meant that measurement of inclusive growth outcomes was relatively straightforward at the local level, but capturing wider impacts presents a clear challenge. They are working towards a range of stated outcomes for the project spanning community and economic objectives, with measures including:

  • more people feeling empowered to improve their local area;
  • more people living in the town centre;
  • improved perceptions of the town centre;
  • a reduction in vacant units;
  • increased numbers of jobs and start-ups;
  • more energy-efficient homes; and
  • increased private investment.

When it comes to place-based initiatives such as this one, there is no self-evident counter-factual against which to measure progress. This was seen as a significant challenge for people working to deliver inclusive growth on the ground, and for government efforts to quantify progress at a regional or national level.

There are clear lessons for local and national government to learn from the emerging success of Midsteeple Quarter. Firstly, the project underlines the inclusive growth activity that community ownership is particularly well placed to foster. Community ownership models offer potential to reverse long-running trends of high-street decline. By combining new ambition and local expertise, community ownership offers not just new avenues into decision-making for local people, but it sparks innovation that drives business growth and diversification, creates good new jobs, and gives local people a meaningful stake in their local economy and their community.

These cascading benefits demonstrate the value that community leadership and a community-led approach have to offer efforts place-based inclusive growth approaches. Progress made in Midsteeple Quarter is fundamentally about trusting people and rethinking the role of government, by handing power over to communities, offering some advice and frameworks through which to consider evaluation, but allowing communities to lead from the front.

We also heard that to make a success of place-based initiatives, the level of the intervention and the level of data available must be flexible. Parameters will need to reflect local proxies of the National Performance Framework – and Scottish Government has a clear role to play here in supporting local initiatives by translating National Performance Framework outcomes into measurable local indicators, and, where local activity reflects ambitions not captured by the National Performance Framework, reflecting this back up to national-level conversations.

The place-based principle was described as a ‘transformation in government’ that could deliver ‘real momentum’ – as seen in the case of Midsteeple Quarter. For government, inclusive growth might support new approaches and a way of thinking that breaks away from the ‘tug of war’ between economic and social policy. This project serves as a healthy reminder that ‘in the real world, it’s not called inclusive growth’ – instead, it can be about local people coming together to create a vision for the place they live in, and leading efforts to realise it.

We spoke to David Cowan, Co-Chair at the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund

Case study 2: University of Edinburgh procurement through the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Deal’s Data-Driven Innovation programme

Our second case study looks at learning from the University of Edinburgh’s procurement practices as part of its role in the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal. The City Region Deal is led by six local authorities across Edinburgh and the Lothians, the Borders and Fife, alongside higher education institutions, to drive inclusive growth and tackle inequalities. The University of Edinburgh and Heriot Watt University are leading the deal’s Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) programme, which aims to make Edinburgh the ‘data capital of Europe’ through capital and skills investment. This case study explores how procurement can be used as a tool to deliver inclusive growth.

The University of Edinburgh had worked to deliver community benefits through procurement for some time, but in the last few years the focus of major projects on delivering inclusive growth has created opportunities to formalise frameworks that can deliver against inclusive growth outcomes.

Achieving shared inclusive growth impacts through procurement, e.g., by promoting needed skills training, local spending or other means as part of capital projects, was included as a formal aim of the City Region Deal investment for all partners. As the University of Edinburgh led the first projects in the City Region Deal pipeline, the University procurement team had the role to pilot inclusive growth approaches on behalf of the rest of the Deal partners.

From its inception, the City Region Deal team worked with the University procurement and DDI teams and partner local authorities to develop scalable ways to incorporate procurement into the inclusive growth framework for the Deal. The priorities they developed included:

1. Positive Actions: engaging suppliers with and linking actions wherever appropriate to City Region Deal Programme equalities outcomes for women, disabled people, people facing age barriers and people from ethnic minority backgrounds

2. The use of procurement data for regional economic impact assessment and innovation: including analysing University spend data to better understand the impact of public spending decisions on inclusive growth

3. Fair work practices and paying the Real Living Wage: ensuring all City Region Deal projects incorporate consideration of fair work and workers are paid the Living Wage; and,

4. Showing the benefits of partnership working and innovation opportunities, including alignment with other City Region Deal programmes and new opportunities in line with the DDI programme.

Source: Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal Joint Committee

The City Region Deal has presented opportunities to build long-term relationships with suppliers, that could include pipeline-level engagement, set shared objectives, and work collaboratively to access third-party funding.

In addition to applying its community benefits approach, the University team focused on 5 key outcomes, trying to establish measures with suppliers that could be aggregated across projects and partners’ different approaches:

1. Spending local: Measured through share of procurement through local suppliers, including subcontractor information formally or voluntarily provided by Deal contractors

2. Supporting good work: Measured by the share of contractors paying Real Living Wage

3. Supporting social enterprises: Measured through the amount of spend going to social enterprises

4. Investing in skills pipelines: measured by the rates of people from disadvantaged groups accessing skills opportunities

5. Bespoke interventions: Ranging from engaging suppliers in DDI programmes e.g., work with city region schools on data skills to collaboration with students and staff on climate action-related projects

Growth deals were seen to offer a structured way to approach inclusive growth, that embeds community benefits by putting a focus on new approaches to procurement. They mark a different approach from what’s come before firstly through its business case designed to deliver against inclusive growth objectives, secondly through a formal shared governance approach that embeds inclusive growth principles, and thirdly through building on the existing strengths of long-standing work to deliver community benefits, especially through local authorities.

The City Region Deal team helped ensure success by engaging procurement teams from all partners in workshops and discussions. The team also resourced and appointed a procurement-related City Region Deal Community Benefits Officer, led by Edinburgh Council’s Capital City Partnership (CCP), to steer procurement’s contribution to inclusive growth across the Deal.

The scale of the deal has enabled staff working in procurement to develop joint social value action plans with suppliers, such as that developed between University of Edinburgh and Balfour Beatty. Agreed data sharing included measures such as the percentage of the contract won by each sub-contractor; the living wage status of sub-contractors; the equalities data on workforce; and the share of spend going to social enterprises.

Plans are being explored to aggregate this data across the partners to measure the share of investment that was staying in the region, the share of spending supporting social enterprises, the make-up of the workforce employed, and to ensure 100 per cent of contractors are paying the Real Living Wage.

The University also made efforts to ensure that its suppliers work where possible with local authority counterparts or existing capacity within programmes of the University itself, to ensure that community benefits actions are joined-up and the benefits are not diffused. For example, the University encouraged suppliers to work with the University’s own community engagement team and with Midlothian and Edinburgh City Councils, including through the employability and skills services of the Capital City Partnership.

To increase impact, the University also engaged suppliers not linked to City Deal projects with DDI and other City Region Deal programmes wherever appropriate, like its networking suppliers European Electronique, HPE and Fortinet, who are working with the DDI Data Education for All programme, developing bespoke projects with the University and Midlothian Council for data skills engagement in schools.

Data use and measurement challenges

Across the City Region Deal, procurement data has been a focus of leverage to help measure the impact of capital projects, but also has been explored by the University of Edinburgh Business School and DDI teams to map key sectors in each City Region authority as an additional indicator of regional opportunities for innovation.

Procurement data has also been identified as a lever to support social innovation, strengthen engagement with partners and generate new opportunities. For example, the University has been exploring options for raising ambition of spending with Social Enterprises with Social Enterprise Scotland, for example, the development of a network of social enterprise partners to make it easier for authorities to identify them.

Across the City Region Deal, procurement data has further been used to test the robustness of current assumptions that support spending decisions and impact assessments (such as multiplier values) and to map key sectors in each local authority covered by the deal – including, for example, developing a network of social enterprise partners. This data has also been leveraged to support social innovation, strengthen engagement with partners and generate new opportunities.

When applying an inclusive growth lens to procurement in particular, data and measurement challenges are common. These related most acutely to a lack of an existing evidence base, a lack of effective measures against which to assess the impact of interventions, and the combination of complex aims and a lack of shared language. In addition, the lack of established baseline measures meant there was often no agreed approach to start from, or an understanding of the local supplier ecosystem and its strengths and weaknesses. Participants described tensions between new objectives and established ways of delivering projects that often struggled to include inclusive growth objectives as ‘core’ considerations.

Through the City Region Deal, procurement coordinated by the University of Edinburgh required collaboration across multiple local authorities and the University, all of which had different approaches to delivering and measuring community benefits. Bringing those different approached together into one unified strategy presented substantial challenges, and monitoring and evaluation in particular presented tensions across multiple fronts. First is the challenge of embedding strategic priorities into a monitoring and evaluation framework. Second is the challenge of translating agreed objectives into measurable action. Finally, there is the challenge of identifying indicators that are measurable, repeatable, and can be scaled, without losing sight of opportunities for bespoke activities at the local level. Working collaboratively across multiple complex organisations, each with their own approaches to delivering ‘community benefits’, combined with a lack of time and capacity to support efforts to harmonise approaches across different areas of activity presented additional obstacles at each stage.

Specialist high-tech programmes such as those supported by the DDI programme at times presented challenges for ambitions to spend local, with particular projects struggling to contract specialist suppliers locally. Developing and strengthening local supply chains to deliver inclusive growth will take dedicated long-term work to support workforce skills and business development.

The University and City Region Deal team have approached these issues by developing a smaller batch of measures that may be easier to collect and aggregate across Deal projects, e.g., subcontractor spending data for each project or equalities actions per project. The aim for this work is to complement, rather than replace, the diverse community benefits procurement practices that are well-established across the partner authorities, but also help develop convincing data and narrative of inclusive growth impact of our work over time.

For example, developing and strengthening local supply chains to deliver inclusive growth will take dedicated long-term work to support workforce skills and business development. However, aggregating Deal project spend data for subcontractors across projects will give partners crucial information to help us engage with suppliers and find effective strategies for increasing local spend in our capital projects.


A major challenge for the inclusive growth agenda is that “every organisation is reinventing the wheel” without a lot of established practice to draw from, or adequate vehicles for shared governance. The involvement of procurement teams at the earliest stages of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, and the high level of involvement of the University of Edinburgh to contribute along with the other partners, were identified as a major factor in early successes – and indeed have been consistently highlighted as an example of innovative good practice by the Scottish Government.

Evidently, procurement functions cannot effectively deliver and measure inclusive growth outcomes on their own, and effectively integrating inclusive growth approaches and outcomes through procurement relies on these being embedded in the business case that supports projects from their inception. The City Region Deal inclusive growth framework has helpfully frame procurement as one complementary component, ensuring that requirements for procurement action are also included at every project stage, including in business case development through to monitoring and evaluation.

The University of Edinburgh focused on exploring inclusive growth activities that supported bespoke activity and innovative collaborations while aligning these with measures and data that can be reasonably collected by all partners, regardless of their current approaches to community benefits or social value in procurement.

A key lesson that has emerged so far is that informal engagement with suppliers and partners is often just as important as formal contractual procurement measures (and indeed sometimes more important) in ensuring that those delivering major projects are fully engaged with regional inclusive growth ambitions like those in the City Region Deal that go beyond the outputs of a single project.

Similarly, pre-market engagement and work with incumbent suppliers are both of equal in importance in designing procurement processes that can deliver inclusive growth, and many suppliers are often more than happy to engage positively with these agendas on a voluntarily basis. This was demonstrated in the success of university procurement in engaging suppliers who are not directly linked to city region deal projects on delivering against inclusive growth ambitions, for example, by taking extra time to link to key Deal programmes or voluntarily sharing data.

Looking forward, engaging suppliers and public bodies at pipeline level presents a potentially powerful route to incentivise suppliers across sectors to engage in inclusive growth approaches, and to identify more effective inclusive growth interventions. In doing so, procurement could become a yet-more effective lever for delivering inclusive growth ambitions.

We spoke to Peter Hayakawa, who served from 2015 to 2021 as the Procurement Policy Officer for the University of Edinburgh, and now as Policy Manager at Inspired plc, an energy and sustainability consultancy.

Case study 3: Clyde Gateway

Clyde Gateway is a 20-year regeneration project based on the banks of the river Clyde in the east end of Glasgow, encompassing Bridgeton, Camlachie, Farme Cross, Dalmarnock and Shawfield. Now in its 13th year, Clyde Gateway is Scotland’s most significant and most ambitious regeneration project, with work planned until 2028. It is a partnership between Glasgow City Council, South Lanarkshire Council, and Scottish Enterprise, with support and investment from Scottish Government. Clyde Gateway spans the east end of Glasgow and Rutherglen. Clyde Gateway’s approach places a focus on great design, strong infrastructure and work with local communities. The project also aims to double the local population of Clyde Gateway over two decades.

In this case study, we focus particularly on their approach to creating routes into good quality work for people experiencing long-term barriers to employment. In particular, we focus on an approach that has seen public sector employers take a leading role in building routes into employment, including Police Scotland and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde through an evolving collaboration.

This is clearly not easy work. Clyde Gateway’s partnership NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has involved collaboration with Job Centre Plus, Jobs & Business Glasgow, Skills Development Scotland and Routes to Work South. It has involved a 2018 pre-employment programme to support routes into NHS jobs, in which 21 people participated and which led to 10 local people secure jobs in the NHS as Facilities Assistants and Health Care Support Workers. Learning from the experience of early cohorts is underway, and planned repeat programmes have been postponed due to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. So far, partnership working with Police Scotland has created 10 apprenticeships for school leavers, while Police Scotland became the single largest employer in the area in 2015 when 1,100 staff moved into a new state-of-the-art office constructed on the boundary of Dalmarnock and Shawfield. While the number of jobs created for local people who have been long out of work are small in scale so far, the team at Clyde Gateway emphasise the potential to refine and scale these initiatives in the area, and further afield across Scotland.

Clyde Gateway works extensively with the local community and businesses across the area to understand and tackle the barriers people experience in getting into good quality work, and the barriers that prevent employers from leading change. As they put it, “we know the people, we sit alongside them; we know the employers, and we sit alongside them”. The project’s primary focus is on creating good new jobs for people furthest away from the labour market: those who are long-term out of work. They have identified health and skills as the primary barriers for those who are long-term out of work in the area – challenges which sit against a backdrop of health and educational inequalities. The team relied on a handful of key insights: some 46 per cent of adults living in Clyde Gateway have no formal qualifications, and there is a high prevalence of muscular skeletal concerns and poor mental health in the area. Clyde Gateway’s approach emphasises that each of these conditions ‘can be turned around’, and that routes into good work had an important role to play in improving a range of other outcomes, including health.

To create routes into good work and reduce rates of worklessness, the project has looked not just to strengthening the position of the local workforce through, for example, skills and training or employability support, but also to strengthen the position of potential employers to provide routes into good work for local people experiencing long-term unemployment. A parallel focus on reducing health inequalities within the area has focussed action on housing and jobs. As the team see it, where inclusive growth is not happening, health is the key issue. For the Clyde Gateway area, the link between worklessness and ill health was strong and well established and shifting the employment rate in deprived areas as often being about ‘health, not jobs’. This was measured through indicators such as healthy life expectancy, and years lived with disability, and the disability employment rate, and supported by a Population Health Joint Working programme aimed at delivering an integrated approach to health and social care.

Work with the health service as an employer started with the observation that the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde was the largest employer in the broader area, and there are a substantial number of unfilled vacancies in its workforce at any time. The team at Clyde Gateway wanted to ask what could be done to create routes into these jobs for local people – and particularly people who live with chronic illness or disabled people who have been out of work for some time. Given its scale and the vast range of functions it covers as an employer, the NHS was seen to offer huge potential as an employer partner – with greater flexibility and room for manoeuvre than small or medium sized businesses.

The Clyde Gateway team were open in discussing the challenges the NHS employability service faced in engaging with a project like Clyde Gateway, who grapple with long-term challenges and demand new ways of working to forge solutions. A key lesson from the project is that inclusive growth investment might be about bolstering employers, not just about providing the skills for future workforce. The Clyde Gateway experience shows that securing routes into good work is often just as much about ‘convincing employers it’s worth the risk’ as it is about supporting people to access those opportunities. The team feel they are often doing ‘what others are scared of’, in that a place-based approach that means ‘we can’t cherry pick’ or ‘move on’ – but instead, there’s a commitment to a community. Large-scale, long-term regeneration projects were seen to create the environment to build solutions to big systemic problems, not shy away from them. Clyde Gateway has future ambitions to expand this approach within NHS Scotland, and into Scotland’s Social Security Agency.

Participants described ‘handwringing’ as a significant barrier to progress, with people either viewing inclusive growth as ‘too complicated’ or overly simple. In Clyde Gateway, delivering holistic regeneration often means starting from a low baseline and tackling challenges like the disability employment rate by looking beyond traditional levers like employability support, and out into employers. As they see it, ‘we do the gaps’ left by traditional services and government support.

Data and measurement challenges

Despite having clearly defined objectives, the team working on Clyde Gateway have struggled to access appropriate and reliable data to support monitoring and evaluation in particular areas of their work. The NHS jobs scheme, for example, is clearly defined in its objectives, which support Clyde Gateway’s ‘key performance indicators’ on ‘supporting people in employability programmes’, ‘supporting businesses’, and ‘supporting people into employment’. Despite the clearly agreed outcomes, the team had struggled with finding statistics to measure a baseline and subsequent progress in the area and had relied on bespoke statistics that they had procured directly until recently, when the Scottish Government were able to support analysis at the appropriate geographical level using ONS data. This granular data was relied on to get an assessment of skills and employment among the local workforce, but data was often only available at the council area – presenting acute challenges given the area covers the border of Glasgow and South Lanarkshire. It was felt that government agencies such as Skills Development Scotland were not able to provide much-sought-after information about skills within a local population – without which, it was difficult to know where to start or how best to target skills development. Participants expressed fears for the durability of inclusive growth as a driving agenda due to a lack of accountability, and the challenges they had encountered in ‘evidencing what we’re doing’ in long-term, place-based projects like Clyde Gateway.

To drive inclusive growth forward, it was suggested that SCRIG could play a role in bringing together data relating to skills, health, and employment outcomes across different geographies. Participants emphasised the need for convergence targets similar those set around the London 2012 Olympics, which linked local interventions to national initiatives including on closing the educational attainment gap. They also stressed the need to focus on key indicators that could be replicated across different levels of activity, including productivity, health, and skills.


The work of Clyde Gateway centres on ‘trust mechanisms’ that had been built and tested through the life of the project so far. A key challenge centred on the objective to double the population of Clyde Gateway over the course of the project – which had been met with accusations of gentrification. Indeed, there are clear challenges in delivering place-based inclusive growth with an evolving population – not least when it comes to measurement. Participants described the challenges associated with accessing and analysing data that could ascertain if new opportunities are being shared by the settled or new population in a place, or if average improvements in outcomes such as health and employment are driven by changes within the existing population, or the movement into the area of people with better health and employment prospects. Data challenges were described as a key obstacle to evaluating interventions and measuring progress towards key outcomes. Barriers related to a lack of data that could account for population movement, and data on a geographic scale that related to the interventions made at Clyde Gateway.

The team working to rebuild Clyde Gateway saw Inclusive growth as an ‘easy idea’ that meant people are ‘involved in the economy and contributing to the common good’. They saw the challenge as creating a climate ‘where everyone thinks this is worth doing’.

We spoke to Niki Spence and Ian Mason at Clyde Gateway

Case study 4: Riverside Dalmarnock housing development

Riverside Dalmarnock is a development of 562 new homes for social rent, mid-market rent, new supply shared equity (NSSE) and private sale on the site of the former Dalmarnock Power Station in the East End of Glasgow. The development is run by Link Group (Link), a specialist affordable housing provider, and Laurel Homes, the private housing brand of McTaggart construction. The development includes a £1 million community benefit programme focussing on delivering community benefits that reach beyond the homes being constructed, spanning jobs, training and education, and a community enhancement programme. At the time of writing the project is around half-way into its life course, having run for three and a half years.

The project aims to build a community, not just buildings, and in this respect, set out to work closely with the local community and local businesses over its six-seven-year lifespan. As the development started as a brownfield site there was no immediate community with whom to engage. Speaking with representatives from local organisations helped to determine who the Riverside community was and would become throughout the duration of the project. Ahead of the project starting the team had a year’s lead-in time, which enabled them to map out the area, begin to build relationships with partners, and work together to set joint outcomes and agree how they would be measured.

Jobs and skills

The project was originally designed to deliver 40 jobs to the Clyde Gateway area over its course, with an emphasis on creating a pipeline to support local people into those jobs. Midway through the programme this figure has already been exceeded and the team anticipate the final figures being substantially higher. The site itself is designed to offer learning and training opportunities, with on-site work placements for local high school pupils, apprenticeships and training provision. The project puts a dedicated focus on on-site progression, reporting that 1 in 4 employees sustain employment over 6 months, compared to 1 in 9 across Scotland’s workforce as a whole. On-site vacancies are filled through working with employability partners.

The project takes a holistic approach to providing high-quality employment opportunities to local people. In practice, this has seen the project deliver bus passes, clothing grants for work clothes, and lunch vouchers to lower barriers to taking up and progressing in work. So far, £37,000 has been spent on these measures to support local people on low incomes to access work and training opportunities.

Due to its duration, continuity from one phase to the next and scale, the project has also been able to put measures in place to ensure sustainability of the workforce, and to prioritise investment in people. This has so far included identifying challenges in work-force retention and putting support systems in place through follow-up from local partners where people drop out. This has been linked to the development of the holistic support described above, and has in some instances gone as far as to arrange access to counselling to support people’s continued participation in work and training.

The Riverside development works with the Glasgow Guarantee employment programme and is signed up as a partner for the UK Government’s Kickstart programme to support young people into work through the pandemic. The site also includes an on-site training room, where partners Big Plus and Action for Children work. One particular example is the provision of a funded training programme to support an on-site blacksmith, which offers a sustained training and work opportunity for a local person.

Early work mapping the local area around the Riverside site identified a long-standing challenge from long-term unemployment and so 80% of places were offered to people within a 5-mile catchment area. This was particularly acute amongst the over 30s, which sparked an initiative to support paid work placements for over 30s looking to get back into work. The over 30s account for 30% of all job opportunities on-site and this continues with 100% retention rate.

Training and fair work objectives extend to the project’s sub-contractors, who are contracted with the aim of ensuring at least 40-45 per cent of contracts are supporting a local supply chain, from major subcontractors through to micro-businesses. These subcontractors are all offered free access to McTaggart training and development.

School engagement and curriculum development

The project team arrange and facilitate school visits to the site, from primary school through to secondary school placements, and college-level learning. The project identified low educational attainment as a key local challenge, and set an aim to play a role in developing the young workforce. This has seen the project put resources and investment behind supporting STEM curriculum programmes with Dalmarnock primary school and STEM clubs in high schools. This work is based on developing strong partnerships with local primary and secondary schools, and an approach that engages and involves the local community. Activity is orientated at sponsoring STEM-subject activity at primary-school level, and at creating routes into apprenticeships at high school level.

In January 2020, McTaggart started delivering their own ‘construction pathway’ college course with a classroom and practical element delivered on site - though this was disrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Community engagement

Link mapped out the local area using the Community Insight tool provided through HACT (Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust) in order to develop a socioeconomic picture of the local community and labour market. This supported the project to map local need, identify local partners, and identify the community that would become local to Riverside – including likely future residents. The completion of phase 1 saw first residents move into the area in 2019. Building relationships with local communities and the growing community at Riverside has become a key focus for the project and a critical component of its success.

Early engagement with the local community identified the disappointment that local people associated with the unfulfilled promises of the Commonwealth Games legacy. The Athletes’ Village next to the Riverside site, 90 per cent of which was sold privately. Building relationships with local communities and the growing community at Riverside has become a key focus for the project and a critical component of its success.

Community enhancement

There is a focus on green space, including ensuring access to green space for every property through gardens and roof gardens. There is also planned integration with Clyde Walkway, on the edge of the site. The 552 units that make up the site include social, mid-market rent and private tenure, retirement housing, flats and family homes. There is a commitment to ensuring there is no difference between units that will be for social or other tenants through an enhanced integration and a ‘tenure neutral’ approach. The community enhancement strategy is also supported by a ‘community chest’ – a pot of money that can be used to support local projects.

Arts strategy

A 5-year art strategy designed to enhance public space and create a project that can serve and inspire the new community, with a focus on creating social spaces for local people to share and enjoy together, promoting a sense of pride in their neighbourhood.


For Link, working with a contractor who’s “bought in” and “on the same page” makes a substantial difference to what’s possible to deliver through a major project. Participants described a significant shift over the last decade, in that some housing providers and construction firms now see community benefit as part of the fabric of how they work, not as a secondary concern. As one participant put it, ‘this is the way we work now’. The project also relied on its scale – as a six-seven-year undertaking – and lead-in time, which supported a considered approach to community benefit that could be embedded throughout the process.

Strong and sustained relationships with the community and local partners were seen as key to the success of the Riverside project. Link and McTaggart had mapped out partners at the beginning of the project that range from suppliers to schools to employability services to social enterprises, and had gained valuable links into local people and organisations through these relationships. McTaggart aim to provide a ‘lifespan’ offer to local residents, by offering site visits to school pupils through education partnerships, employment and progression opportunities on site through local employability partnerships, and eventually new homes for local residents.

Procurement that delivers community benefit was seen by Link to be the ‘best tool we’ve got’ to deliver against inclusive growth outcomes. Both Link and McTaggart described how community benefit clauses have grown in ambition, from the traditional school visits to career fairs to deep relationships embedded in communities, with transformative potential.

We spoke to Andy Jack and Grant Alexander from Link Group and Ross Hammell from McTaggart Construction. Link is a group of social enterprise companies serving more than 15,000 customers, making it one of the largest social landlords in Scotland. It provides affordable housing, property management, regeneration, advice, financial inclusion and employability services.



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