Foundational Economy - So how does TPAS Cymru measure up?



What it Foundational Economy?

It was coined by the Centre for Research on Social-Cultural Change in 2013 in their Manifesto for the foundational economy, as the following:

“What we will call the foundational economy is that part of the economy that creates and distributes goods and services consumed by all (regardless of income and status) because they support everyday life”.

So how is this defined in everyday life?

The Manifesto identifies the “mundane production of everyday necessities” and argues that policy makers have neglected these sectors of the economy, as their attention has been drawn by the allure of high-tech, next-generation industries. It contends that, as a result, the foundational economy is pervasively mismanaged and that this has led to it being characterised by low-wage, low-skilled jobs. Hence, they propose a raft of sector-specific measures to invigorate these parts of the economy.

Sectorial Composition:

The following make up the foundational economy:

  1. the utilities, including piped or cabled services such energy, water and sewerage;
  2. retail banking; food and petrol retailing; food processing;
  3. networks and services such as rail or bus for transport and distribution of people and goods;
  4. telecommunications networks;
  5. health, education and welfare/social care.

This is a wide and varied collection of sectors, which account for over 70% of all employment in the UK.

Foundational Economy case studies to date consist of large ‘anchor’ organisations (like universities, RSLs, Police etc) analysing their top contracts to increase / improve local supply chain.

For TPAS Cymru, we are not a large organisation, however we are able to look at all of our expenditure and how is compares to our commitment to a pan-Wales economy.


So how does TPAS Cymru measure up?

100% of our staff live and reside in Wales.

80% of our expenditure is distributed to Welsh SME organisations who are based in Wales and employ Welsh residents. 

A further 10% are part of a medium sized organisation that whilst do not have their origins in Wales, they have a Wales office and do employ Welsh residents providing local services thereby ensuring local job growth and security.

The final 10% is made up mainly of two significant expenditures:

  1. A Cardiff ‘chain hotel’ we use once a year for an event.
  2. Our rent for our Cardiff office.  Whilst our landlord Unite the Union have a very strong physical and staff presence in Wales its unclear at this stage if our rent payments remain in Wales.

Only 0.30% of our spend goes to online organisations where we are unable to specifically choose Welsh organisations due to lack of availability of product or service or are cost prohibitive

We ensure that 100% of our support is placed with Welsh SME companies for the following services, including social enterprises, charities and community centres.

  • Meeting Rooms
  • Catering
  • IT Solutions
  • Media support; including media content, translation, photography, video.
  • Staff Training & Recruitment
  • Auditing & Accounting
  • Legal & HR Representation / Support
  • Courier Services
  • Telecoms
  • Printing

Next Steps:

We recognise that it’s not enough to just look inwards at our own organisation. We must influence and build links with FE anchor organisations like social landlords. Historically our influence is much greater than our spending power. Therefore, we commit to 3 actions:

  1. We will look to promote Foundational Economy activities and thinking across sectors we engage with Housing, Local Authorities, Health and Social Care e.g. encourage them to use local SMEs / social businesses and for them to create and target employment and training opportunities at residents etc
  2. Engage with Government and others to make sure residents voices are heard as part of national policy development in Foundational Economy.  
  3. We are based in Cardiff and Colwyn Bay, but we work across Wales.  Our supply and value chain should reflect that. In a future update, we will look at how diverse our spending is across Wales.

If you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact TPAS Cymru on 02920 237303 or at [email protected]


David Wilton & Jane Broad 

TPAS Cymru

Caerphilly housing