Community Wealth Building in Birmingham

(2016 – ongoing)

CLES has been working in Birmingham with seven participating anchor institutions, establishing an anchor network and deploying the UK’s first “community wealth builder in residence” to support progressive practice in relation to spend, workforce and the use of land and property assets.


  • Birmingham and the wider Black Country is a place of stark inequality. While Birmingham has seen significant growth driven by investment in the city centre in recent years, the breadth and depth of deprivation in the city and beyond remains extremely high.
  • Economic success for a few is failing to translate into economic benefits for many, with low pay a persistent issue. In 2016, 42.3% of children in Birmingham lived in households classed as in poverty, and 16% of all employees across Birmingham’s five biggest employers were low paid.
  • The Birmingham Anchor Network has been established in an attempt to reduce inequality across the city and beyond. The Network was officially launched in September 2019 and first the “community wealth builder in residence” was appointed February 2020.

Community Wealth Building in Birmingham

Established the Birmingham Anchor Network

The network supports participating organisations to maximise the benefit they bring to the Birmingham economy both individually and collectively. CLES has worked closely with seven anchors to explore and identify opportunities to use their combined budgets of over £5bn and workforce of over 50,000 to generate better outcomes for Birmingham’s residents. By collaborating on work in key areas of procurement, employment and management of land and assets, these anchors have the potential to play a powerful role in shaping the city economy. The objectives of the network are to:

  • provide advice, technical support and training to anchor institutions to build their capacity to harness their spending power, role as employers and asset owners to stimulate equitable local economic development;
  • bring anchor institutions together to collaborate on shared priorities, amplifying the impact of their individual anchor institution activity;
  • extend take-up of community wealth building approaches among anchor institutions in Birmingham and the West Midlands through advocacy activities; and,
  • work alongside CLES to pioneer new forms of community wealth building in the UK.

Created a full-time dedicated post for community wealth building

Participating anchor institutions have jointly funded a full-time “community wealth builder in residence” to spread good practice and drive forward these innovative changes through the delivery of specific, targeted projects.

Developed an Action Plan for response to the impact of Covid-19 on the Birmingham economy

The action plan has within it a number of bold steps that will lead to long term economic reform. This includes exploring how to link existing opportunities for employment in the health sector to residents who are facing redundancy due to Covid-19 and how locally-owned construction firms can access new work from the backlog in housing association building repairs created by the lockdown.

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