Community Wealth Building in Luton

(2019 – ongoing)

CLES has worked with Luton Borough Council to use their transformation plans as a catalyst for community wealth building – driving improvements to health and wellbeing, creating opportunities for residents and businesses, raising aspirations and enhancing prosperity across the town.


  • Luton is a large town in south east England with good transport links to London and a large airport wholly owned by the local authority.
  • More than a quarter of working families in Luton live in relative poverty and almost half of the children in Luton live in poverty, whilst 17.5% of employees earn less than the Real Living Wage and over 15,000 of Lutonians are on zero-hour contracts. Poverty has been exacerbated by rapid increases in house prices in recent years.
  • Luton Borough Council’s overriding priority is the Luton 2040 agenda with the vision that “Luton will be a healthy, fair and sustainable town, where everyone can thrive and no-one has to live in poverty”
  • This follows on from the success of the Luton Investment Framework, which attracted £1.5bn of inward investment into Luton between 2016 and 2019.

Community wealth building in Luton

Inclusive economy

The vision of Luton 2040 is framed by an inclusive economy approach with a remit to co-ordinate and drive a number of projects that ensure no one has to live in poverty by 2040.

The Passport to Employment programme is a partnership between local employers and the Council’s Adult Learning Service, delivering employer led skills and training with a guaranteed interview at the end. The programme is underpinned by the ambitions for local recruitment and upskilling to support career progression.

The Council’s Social Value Policy and Toolkit was approved September 2020. The toolkit will be used to support anchor institutions in embedding social value in their own organisations, whilst a Procurement Practitioners Group is being established to provide technical expertise on supporting local supply chains.

Using Council owned land to develop council housing

The Council owns one in ten homes in the town and 20% of land in the borough. Recent development projects in the housing sector include the High Town and Marsh Farm redevelopment projects.

Municipally owned housing developer

As well as retaining a council housing arm with significant insourced capacity, the Council also wholly owns Foxhall Homes. Foxhall is a company which is developing a number of sites across the locality. Full ownership of Foxhall, though operating at an arm’s length, allows the Council to demand much higher requirements for affordable housing in new developments than a traditional private sector developer.

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