Community Wealth Building in Darlington

(2019 – ongoing) 

CLES have worked with Darlington Borough Council to develop a bespoke social value framework and adopt progressive procurement practices.


  • Situated in on the edge of the Tees Valley, North East England, Darlington suffers from severe levels of inequality. Despite several areas of relative wealth and well-paid jobs there are also pockets of significant deprivation across the borough. Darlington Borough Council recognises that poverty and inequality are its biggest barriers, affecting everything from happiness, health, educational attainment and employment to a sense of safety and security.
  • The Council were drawn to alternative approaches to economic development after observing higher and higher rates of in-work poverty. 26% of workers in Darlington don’t earn a living wage and face little opportunities for progression.
  • The “Fairer, Richer Darlington” Charter was produced in 2019 to provide a formal, public statement of the Council and its partners’ collective intent to support local wealth creation that benefits all residents. Organisations signed up to the Charter include a range of public sector partnerships, residents and businesses, committing them to pledges such as “keep your money local”, “keep your eyes & ears open”, “tackling low incomes” and “give locally”.

Community Wealth Building in Darlington

A nationally aligned social value procurement framework

Following the publication of Fairer, Richer Darlington, CLES worked with the Council during 2019 to develop a bespoke social value framework based around the Council’s overarching vision and objectives. The Darlington Social Value Procurement Framework has been informed by the need for commissioning and procurement to become more aligned to the strategic and corporate priorities of Darlington Borough Council and the desire for social value to be more at the forefront of procurement processes and decision-making.

This framework was also informed by the nationally defined Themes, Outcomes, Measures (TOMs) methodology developed by the Social Value Portal. This methodology enables Darlington Borough Council to align their priorities to a set of measures which are being used across England to shape procurement approaches, practices, decision-making and monitoring. As part of this work, CLES has sought to align the TOMS with the Darlington specific outcomes and indicators to develop the bespoke Darlington Social Value Procurement Framework.

Darlington Borough Council is at the beginning of its community wealth building journey. By taking action to advance progressive procurement practice the council now has a set of purposeful tools to harness local spending power and translate it into social, economic and environmental benefit for its residents.

An emerging anchor institution network

It is also in the process of developing an anchor network with fellow local public sector agencies to encourage wider adoption of the framework and explore additional joint actions that can be taken to support the shared vision.

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