Community wealth building in Dublin

(2022 – ongoing)

CLES have been working with Dublin City Council to support them in developing their community wealth building approach since 2022.


  • Dublin is the first city in Ireland to adopt community wealth building.
  • The city is a place of contrasts – with many benefitting from the economic growth enjoyed in Ireland in recent years, but many more who have not.
  • Dublin have focused in the first instance on values-based recruitment, understanding their spend, developing a social value framework, using procurement to support the growth of social enterprises in the city and exploring a pilot area approach to community wealth building.
  • In the next iteration of their work they hope to develop an anchor network in the city and to further build awareness of the approach amongst stakeholders.

Community wealth building in Dublin

Values based recruitment

Dublin City Council employs nearly 6,000 people, meaning they have considerable influence over the labour market in and beyond the city. Some posts are determined by nationally set parameters and, in these cases, the City Council aims to lobby, influence and seek to adapt entry requirements so as to give opportunity to those excluded. For posts that the Council itself sets eligibility criteria for, they are committed to dismantling barriers to those who may otherwise struggle to gain employment. With this in mind, the Council have adopted a locally-targeted approach to the recruitment of general operatives, the backbone of the outdoor workforce. A highly successful recruitment process was held in Ballymun last year and almost 1,000 applications have been received from a second targeted area – Cherry Orchard. Both Ballymun and Cherry Orchard are recognised as having high levels of disadvantage, low educational attainment and few employment opportunities locally. The Council intend to target a disadvantaged area with each successive recruitment approach, with areas such as Drimnagh and Finglas mentioned for future campaigns.

Similarly, Dublin Fire Brigade are now targeting their highly competitive recruitment process to bring it to the attention of young people in marginalised areas. This includes advertisements at local bus stops, working with local partnership companies, community centres and Intreo offices to bring the opportunity to the attention of those people who may have thought that there was no point applying.

Social value, procurement and supporting social enterprise

Incorporating a greater use of social clauses as part of Dublin City Council’s spend is key to implementing community wealth building in the city.  Dublin City Council have developed a social value framework, expressly articulating the values they wish to demonstrate, involve and encourage in all of its actions and policies.  The social value framework was drafted by a steering group, with support from CLES, and brought to different parts of the Council for comment and input. A final framework was developed and this was adopted in June 2023.

To further the impact of this work it has been important for the Council to understand the numbers, capacities and connections between social enterprises.  To gather this intelligence the Council issued a request for information to social enterprises seeking to understand the nature of business engaged in, involvement with other social enterprises and scale.  An event held in May 2023 brought social enterprises together with buyers from Council departments and also involved representatives from companies currently trading with the Council, that are willing to sub contract work to social enterprises. Contracts with specific social benefits are under focus including the arrangements for clothing recycling, of which at least one lot will be reserved for social enterprises.

The Council also commissioned an analysis of its spend in 2022 and 2023.  This has highlighted the companies in receipt of payments / contracts and their location i.e. within the City of Dublin, the county of Dublin, within Leinster, within the island of Ireland and elsewhere.  This data will form the basis of further analysis to understand how the Council’s spend can best benefit local communities.

Pilot area

The City Council is also exploring the benefits of taking a pilot area approach, by focussing community wealth building approaches, where possible on the Cherry Orchard area.  This is a place with terrific community spirit, great residents and strong social infrastructure. However,  Cherry Orchard has also been linked with anti-social and criminal behaviour, triggered by the actions of a small minority. A group made up of Dublin City Council finance, planning, housing and Cherry Orchard Area Office officials meet every quarter to consider how community wealth building principles on recruitment, employment, access to community facilities etc. can be applied in the area.