Applying The Barca Approach to Placed
Based Regeneration to the National and
Regional Level in England
General Director for Development
Ministry of Economy and Finance, Italy
• Globalisation vs. comparative long term structural challenges (ageing,
low birth rates, skills, technology, mass migration, climate change - see
Regions 2020, McCann etc)
• ‘Anglo Saxon’ vs. Franco / German ‘social model’?
• Highly contested evidence of ‘convergence’ (reduced disparities),
especially of causal relationships (see Sapir)
• Towards Transnational (e.g. EGTC, FP8) or Renationalisation?
• Some places or all places?
• Equity (need) and/or Efficiency (opportunity)?
• Ever more complex and multi-level governance; what borders? what
unit(s) of sub national geography?
• What future availability of public sector investment capital?
Barca defining ‘place based’ development
•A long term, ‘complex and risky’ strategy which aims to reduce persistent
inefficiency (underutilisation of full potential) and inequality (share of people below
a given standard) in ‘specific places’
•Bundles of integrated public goods and services, designed and implemented by
eliciting and aggregating local preferences through participatory political
•Promoted within a system of multi level governance with transfer of grants from
higher to lower levels; with higher level strategies being implemented at the lower
(subject to conditionalities on both objectives and institutions)
place must be defined as a social concept, a contiguous/continuous area within
whose boundaries a set of conditions conducive to development apply more than
they do across boundaries (i.e. relative to other places): natural and cultural
circumstances and the preferences of people are more homogeneous or
complementary, the knowledge of people is more synergetic, and positive
externalities and formal and informal institutions are more likely to arise.
The boundaries of places are thus independent of administrative boundaries,
endogenous to the policy process and can change over time.’
• Investments in efficiency and social inclusion objectives
require a similar and/or linked approach
• Place based development restricts mobility
• Place based interventions artificially limit agglomeration by
distorting market forces
• ‘Trade offs’ between local objectives and global efficiency
• Place based policies are only for poor places
• Financial distribution is necessary
• The necessary aim is convergence (of GDP per capita)
The 10 Pillars of Barca (1-5)
• Concentration of 2/3rds of funding on 3-4 core priorities (from innovation,
climate change, migration, children, skills & ageing) – at least 1-2 for
both efficiency and social inclusion)
• Stronger strategic (vertical) dialogue setting ‘clear cut’ principles for core
• A new contractual relationship based on performance and institutional
requirements (priorities, targets, (variable) funding allocations, institutional
framework to deliver each priority, and administrative capacity)
• Strengthened proportionate governance, including ex-ante ‘conditionalities’
on the institutional framework, high quality indicators and targets, and
rewards & sanctions
• More innovative & flexible spending; monitored at the national level;
leading to a national ‘de facto’ market for credit’
The 10 Pillars of Barca (6-10)
• Promoting local experimentalism (including more
pilot funding programmes) whilst preventing policy
from being captured by local actors
• Use of (ex ante) counterfactual impact assessments
in order to improve policy making and performance
measurement (see later)
• Stronger and more co-ordinated client side
• More proportionate financial management & control
• ‘Much improved’ political debates – based more on
better information on results and on ‘what’ works and
Characterising Barca? (1)
• Supporting investments in both efficiency and equity – but
outlining a clear distinction between each – and a need to
pursue them through different and distinct interventions
• ‘Clear consensus’ on benefits and need for public
investments supporting (naturally limited) agglomeration
and on networking with hinterlands and other big cities
• Retaining endogenous growth theory (better utilisation of
(current and future) immobile factors of production)…but
as a (more informed) exogenous intervention - and not for
limiting migration or for the purposes of financial
redistribution or weak local fiscal capability)
Characterising Barca? (2)
• Moving away from investments in firms –
and providing a new focus for investments
in public goods i.e. law/order, education,
training, basic research, water supply,
waste disposal, business support, transport
• Addressing specific market failures (limiting
influence of local elites, strong path
dependency, public goods needed by
• Hard hitting, critical text but analysis and proposals necessarily balanced
to fit known existing institutional / national lobbies
• Probably primarily focused on accessionary states and other ‘poor
• Requires fundamental institutional reform of both client and contractor
side; especially difficult in fiscally centralised & non federal states
• Ignores rural development; little discussion of new environmental
• ‘Place’ as ‘cross border’ but no discussion of problems of horizontal
• Ignores need and problems of reform of allocating resources between
places and between departments
Rethinking UK Regional Policy in England in the Context of Barca
• A few departments of central government as the ‘dominant actor’ in regional development; most interventions
directed to people and firms regardless of their location; largely designed, funded and directed by/from
national level; horizontal integration at sub national level very difficult.
• Nominally pooled devolved budgets often required to seek specific centrally determined outcomes e.g. Single
Programme, Area Based Grant etc
What potential for Total Place?
• Tendency for ambitious and / or unevidenced targets, with few, if any, real connections between regional
(RES,RSS,RFA), city/sub regional (MAA) and local targets (LAA).
What importance of (transferred) risk based investment e.g. Accelerated Development Zones?
Capability of local level?
• Sub national institutional boundaries largely historic / artificial - public identities rooted much more in
parochialism than regionalism or city-regionalism.
• Some progress towards ‘fewer, bigger’ strategic priorities but ‘democratic deficit’ of sub national institutions
makes prioritisation very difficult
What potential for Economic Prosperity Boards? Metro Mayors?
• Creeping renationalisation e.g; TSB, SIF, HCA, UK Finance for Growth (UKFG), UK Innovation Investment
Fund, Technology Innovation Centres and Regional Growth Funds, Business Support Simplification, abolition
of LSC, Cultural Consortia, Arts Council etc.
What new future for RDAs? EU Regional Policy?
Counterfactual (Ex Ante) Impact Assessments
‘an impact evaluation assesses changes in the well-being
of individuals, households, communities or firms that can
be attributed to a particular project, program or policy. The
central impact evaluation question is what would have
happened to those receiving the intervention if they had not
in fact received the program’ (World Bank, 2008)
‘assessing the impact of (planned) investments by
estimating what the outcome would have been had the
intervention not taken place …in similar enough individuals,
organisations, or areas not targeted by the policy’ (Barca,
or ‘(knowing when we design the policy) what we need to
measure to know what works for whom’?
Challenges of Counterfactual Assessments
• Institutional capacity (‘visionary & humble’) and consistency across places
• Defining a (legible) strong initial policy proposition and evaluation
framework at the same time (not ex post)
• Availability of good quality data at local levels (valid, clear, objective, &
especially, responsive to policy)
• Estimating deadweight & displacement; identifying the ‘active component’
• Selection of beneficiaries (random or political?) and other ‘similar’ non
• Managing ethical issues
• External validity – will it work elsewhere?