Bringing community wealth to Birmingham

A ground-breaking Birmingham project aims to stop millions of pounds ‘leaking out’ of the city economy every year. Birmingham City Council is joining forces with the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) and Barrow Cadbury Trust to look at how ‘anchor’ institutions can use their spending power to increase economic opportunities for all of Birmingham’s communities, businesses and citizens.

Anchor institutions, such as the local authority, hospitals, universities and housing providers are significant spenders in the local economy, with large annual budgets for staff, food, energy and other supplies and services.

Now, using an approach which is common in many North American cities and which CLES has progressed in Preston, the new partnership aims to help Birmingham’s anchor institutions use their spending power locally by identifying changes in behaviour around procurement and other processes that will benefit local businesses, people and communities.

Examining the economic power of these anchors, the project will analyse:

  • which goods and services are locally purchased;
  • which local people are employed and from which areas;
  • how land and property has the potential to create wealth which communities truly benefit from.

Birmingham City Council leader Cllr John Clancy said: “Our anchor institutions are already hugely important but they can play an even greater role in economic growth and prosperity. Birmingham contains significant existing wealth which needs to be harnessed more effectively for the benefit of our economy and people.”

Neil McInroy (Chief Executive) and Matthew Jackson (Deputy Chief Executive) of CLES said. “We know that this programme of work can bring real wealth and income benefits to communities and citizens.  We are absolutely thrilled to be working in Birmingham to deliver better social outcomes and local wealth creation through the collective progressive action of significant city anchors.  We have a lot of work to do.  But with the help of anchors, we can deliver at a scale not realised in the UK before.”

Sara Llewellin, Chief Executive of Barrow Cadbury Trust said: “The Trust has been pleased to see debate and practice on local economies grow in Birmingham in recent years.  This anchor institution work will build on a movement which is already strong within the city and help to explore how resources already flowing through the city can be better utilised for the good of all citizens.”

Notes to Editors:

(i) Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) is the UK’s leading independent charitable research organisation with a focus on economic development, regeneration and place-making. CLES promotes action on progressive economic activities which create positive environmental, health and social outcomes. In all their work the relationship between place, economy and people is central.

For comment from CLES, contact Matthew Jackson, 0161 236 7036 and to view previous work undertaken by CLES in Preston see: or this article:

(ii) For comment from Birmingham City Council, contact the Leaders office, 0121 303 2070

(iii)  Barrow Cadbury Trust is an independent, charitable foundation, committed to bringing about socially just change.