Community Wealth Building in Wigan

(2018 – ongoing)

In Wigan, CLES has been working with the Council over the last year to harness community wealth building principles to address economic inequalities in the borough. In light of Covid-19, the Council has recognised that the need to create a fairer and more equal local economy has become even more acute. This is why it has now made community wealth building the central tenant of its recovery plans.  

Context

  • Wigan sits at the boundary of Greater Manchester and Merseyside. With excellent national transport connections, a number of large national businesses have significant bases in the borough. 
  • In recent years Wigan has seen significant growth in the housing market, with the development of 1,214 new homes built in 2018/19. 
  • However, pay levels remain low, with average wages being the fifth lowest in the country. 
  • The Council developed the award-winning Wigan Deal as a model for public service transformation which reimagined the role of the Council as a facilitator of ideas emerging from the local community. 
  • In 2018 the Council recognised the persistence of deprivation in the Borough andinspired by the economically transformative potential of community wealth building, approached CLES to help develop a new iteration of the Deal, with the building of an inclusive economy at its heart. 
  • In September 2020, in light of Covid-19, the Council recognised that the need to create a fairer and more equal local economy has become even more acute and launched a vision and principles document for making community wealth a central tenant of its recovery plans. 

Community Wealth Building in Wigan

A new intent for Covid-19 recovery 

Wigan Council’s approach of embedding community wealth building into its Covid-19 recovery plans builds on the underlying conviction of the much-celebrated Wigan Deal – that power should be shared with citizens and solutions codesigned. However, this goes beyond enabling community power as a key tenet of public service reform. Indeed, it is about strong partnering with the community to build community ownership within the commercial economy and counteract wealth extraction. In this, we are seeing a reimagining of how we can make local economies work, underpinned by a commitment to return economic power to local people. Going forward the Council has committed to working in partnership with other anchor institutions across the borough to embed community wealth building principles into procurement policies, recruitment processes and asset management. 

Animating the social and solidarity economy  

The inherent community wealth building logic of the Wigan Deal has helped to transform the role of the Council into an enabler of the social and solidarity economy. Over the last few years the Council has offered tailored support for CICs, seconded staff, and developed funding and support packages to develop ideas and devolution of control of publicly owned land and property. A good example of this can be found in Sunshine House.  

Reforming a sector to improve conditions for the lowest paid workers 

In Wigan, spending on adult social care – traditionally a low paid sector – is understood as a key site for shaping employment opportunities and conditions for local peopleThe Ethical Homecare Framework and work over many years to embed the approach of the Deal among providers has driven up employment standards, fundamentally reformed the economy of the care sector in the Borough and supported the development of more than 100 social enterprises. 


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