Community Wealth Building in Fife

(2020 – ongoing)

Fife Council have used the intelligence they gathered about local markets through the Covid-19 grant funding process to target their own procurement expenditure towards growing and diversifying their local SME base. They have also been working with a local VCSE organisation to make their recruitment process more accessible to those who struggle to access employment.


  • Fife is Scotland’s third largest local authority area by population. It has a resident population of just under 367,000, over a third of whom live in the three principal settlements, Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes.
  • Money administered to SMEs by local councils during and after the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in an increased awareness of the capacity local SMEs might have to diversify their activities.
  • In Fife Council economic development officers are engaging with local SMEs to make them aware of their goods and services pipeline, with a view to more of their supply chains being delivered by these local businesses.
  • Like many Councils, post-pandemic Fife have struggled to recruit for roles in hospitality.

Community wealth building in Fife

Supporting SMEs

The Council are using this as an opportunity to address the environmental crisis – supporting local SMEs with retrofit and access to environmental grants. They are also encouraging the adoption of the Living Wage, as well as initiating discussions around succession planning, to potentially transition to worker ownership. This, in short, enables these local businesses to grow and develop with greater social and environmental purpose. 

Simplifying recruitment for groups who struggle to access employment

The Council’s Facilities Management Service has also struggled in recent years to recruit caterers, cleaners, janitors and maintenance staff. To address this they have worked with Gingerbread, a voluntary sector organisation that provides advice and support to lone parents and families to host an information session for lone parents, a key child poverty family group, at which council officers described different facilities management jobs and vacancies.

The group discussed the barriers and challenges they faced when applying for the positions and following this session, Facilities Management simplified their recruitment processes, offered guaranteed interviews to lone parents working with Fife Gingerbread and took a more flexible approach to working hours so that posts aren’t restrictive. Nine lone parents being supported by Fife Gingerbread have recently secured jobs with Fife Council.

To build on this success the Council are planning to provide six-month funded placements for 16–19-year-olds to give them the confidence, training and skills needed to transition into employment.