We are part of a growing international movement around community wealth building. For CLES, this work has a long history stretching back to 2005. The timeline, below, highlights some of our key moments on this journey. It details the work we have been involved in, our inspiration, and how our knowledge, skills and experience have developed over time.
CLES undertook extensive work undertaken in collaboration with the British Council around the future of cities, and how to make them more inclusive, economically and socially. We devised a practical process for thinking and analysing places as a system. Projects took place across the UK and interntaionally, including in Oslo, Moscow and Bogota.
CLES began exploring wealth and economic multipliers within place. This work was informed by work undertaken in collaboration with the New Economics Foundation (nef), as part of a ‘local alchemy’ project in the East Midlands exploring ideas around wealth and plugging the leaks. This deepened our practical understanding of how wealth and money flows within and outside of places.
A step change in the local wealth building journey emerged, when we became interested in the concept of economic resilience, and the interconnected relationships between public, social and commercial economies. Through funding from the Norfolk Trust and joined with colleagues from central government and local politics we embarked on a global study of local economic resilience. This gave us a ground breaking insight into the factors that make some places more economically resilient. Central to this was the idea that economic resilience was greater when wealth was locally harnessed.
2008 heralds the beginning of the deep collaborations with local government on procurement spend, wealth and how we can use public money within local supply chains. This work was informed by theoretical knowledge from a range of places around the world, coupled to practical know-how on assessment and policy change. Key work with Manchester City Council endures to this day.
Interest and demand in our work as well as a desire to increase learning and understanding of procurement and local wealth building, meant that we devised and delivered training for politicians, policy makers and practitioners.
We sought to broaden and amplify local wealth building within a range of different contexts. This included: Housing Organisations, commercial organisations, hospitals, stadia, government departments, regional organisations, social enterprise, and airports.
Example – Local Procurement: Making the most of small businesses 2012 and 2013
From the above we started to look at the wider social value of public sector procurement spend, with methodologies such as Social Return On Investment, and Cost Benefit Analysis. This work, predated the English Social Value Act (2013) for which we lobbied for and supported.
Our work on local wealth building started to grow significantly in 2012, as we began to look at the range of Anchor Institutions with a stake in place. Our work seeks to explore the role of anchors through their procurement spend, employment, assets, and democratic responsibilities and activities. This experience and understanding was bolstered by connections made with the Democracy Collaborative (TDC), based in the US, and a visit to there. TDC are now firm friends and collaborators of CLES and remain an inspiration for our work.
Our work on local wealth building has been developed through knowledge and experience. We are now looking to create a movement whereby local wealth building is at the fore of local policy and practice.