Local Wealth Building

The economy is failing to work for everyone. Local wealth building offers a solution.

Who has wealth, who influences its flow, and who benefits from it are defining features of all economies. Traditional economic development policy is too often focused on building wealth through attracting investment, without acknowledging that profits and dividends are usually taken straight back out by investors, at the cost of local economies and people.

Over the past 10 years, CLES has been working with local areas and agencies on an alternative approach to the traditional economic model. Local wealth building aims to reorganise the local economy to put control back into the hands of the local communities, so that wealth is broadly held, with local roots and where benefits are recirculated.  The local wealth building movement seeks to provide resilience where there is risk, local economic security where there is precarity, and to ensure to opportunity, dignity and well-being for all.

We are in a moment of great political and economic uncertainty and momentum around local wealth building is growing.

Watch this short animation for an introduction to local wealth building.

CLES is at the forefront of local wealth building, working together with people across the globe.

Local Wealth Building comprises of 4 main pillars of activity, which focus on:

  • procurement;
  • workforce;
  • land, property and assets; and,
  • ownership of the economy.

Of importance, in the UK context, is CLES’ work on developing anchor strategies.

Anchor Institutions and Local Wealth Building

Anchor institutions commonly include local authorities, further and higher education providers, and housing organisations. Their purchasing power, and their links to the local community as employers and holders of land and property assets mean that they are ‘sticky capital’ on which new local economic approaches and social improvements can be based.

Progressive use of commissioning and procurement by anchors is now acknowledged as a means to developing a dense local supply chain of local enterprises, including SMEs, employee-owned businesses, social enterprises, cooperatives and other forms of community ownership.

Much work on anchors has been pioneered CLES, who are at the forefront of policy and practice in this field – this includes work in Belfast, Birmingham, Calderdale, Manchester, Oldham, Preston, Salford and ten cities across Europe.

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