Community Wealth Building in Southampton

(2018 – ongoing)

CLES are working with Southampton City Council to use community wealth building approaches to address the impact of reduced budgets and tackle climate change by ensuring that money spent buying goods and services in the city delivers local economic, social and environmental benefit.  


  • Southampton is a coastal city with a major port and good transport links to London.  
  • As a result of local authority funding cuts the Council has, in recent years, been forced to find savings by scaling back, withdrawal and outsourcing of services. As budgets continue to dwindle, it has become more and more difficult to put resources on the ground, having a significant impact on Southampton’s most vulnerable residents. 
  • Whilst Southampton’s economy has been growing in recent years, air pollution remains a key issue for the Council. As a result of identified local air quality issues, Southampton has declared 10 Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) to date. 
  • Southampton City Council recognized that the existing approach to procurement was failing to benefit the residents of the city and approached CLES to help them drive forward a community wealth building approach to address multiple issues on the ground. 

Community Wealth Building in Southampton

Redefining the role of procurement for social, economic and environmental justice

An analysis of Council spending by CLES has informed the development of a social value framework for all stages of the procurement cycle. This forms part of a wider programme of work redefining the role of procurement in the City Council, which includes bringing procurement functions back in-house, refreshing policies and developing new procedures. In doing so the Council can now use procurement and commissioning as an intentional means to achieve economic, social and environmental objectives by spreading virtuous business practices up the supply chain.  

Working with anchor institutions

Southampton City Council are working closely with the city’s other anchor institutions, including the privately owned Port, in convening the “Southampton Pound Forum” with a remit to spread good practice around the social value framework and amplify its impact in the local economy. 

Example: The social value procurement framework as a tool for delivering cleaner air for Southampton residents 

By developing climate-related social value outcomes against the Southampton City Council priority outcome of “an attractive city where people are proud to live and work” officers were able to define indicators and lines of enquiry to potential suppliers for increased use of sustainable and active travel, CO2 reduction, recycling, waste and renewable energy use. The Council’s social value procurement framework can therefore become a means to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. 

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