What is Local Wealth Building?

Traditional economic development practice and developer-led regeneration are failing to address the economic challenges of our time. Local wealth building is a new people-centred approach to local economic development, which redirects wealth back into the local economy, and places control and benefits into the hands of local people.

Since 1986, CLES has been working with people across the UK and internationally, who can imagine a better way of organising our local economies, and making it a reality.

In 2007, we started developing a new approach to economic development in the UK – local wealth building. This approach is rooted in the European Social Democratic tradition, in which the state works to protect public values and achieve good outcomes for citizens. It has also drawn inspiration from community wealth building pioneered by the Democracy Collaborative work in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Mondragon cooperatives of the Basque Country.

Local wealth building is a response to the contemporary challenges of austerity, financialisation and automation. It seeks to provide resilience where there is risk and local economic security where there is precarity.

Collaborating with progressive places, such as Manchester and Preston, we have developed tried and tested strategies based on five key principles:

  • Plural ownership of the economy
  • Making financial power work for local places
  • Fair employment and just labour markets
  • Progressive procurement of goods and services
  • Socially productive use of land and property

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


Find out more

>> Return to the Local Wealth Building Centre for Excellence home page.