Community Economic Development
Last week a report was published summarising two years of work supporting 71 communities to come together to develop and implement plans to shape their local economy. Funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the work was led by Coops UK in collaboration with CLES, New Economics Foundation, Locality and Responsible Finance. Community-led economic development (CED) is significantly different from more conventional approaches. While conventional approaches are typically top-down and focused on economic growth, CED is led by local residents and emphasises approaches to development that bring real benefits for people and places.
The report finds that the most effective approaches to CED focus on taking control of an asset or building on existing economic development that is not felt to serve community priorities. The energy for CED can be seen as part of a growing groundswell of interest in community power and control. However, if CED is going to be effective, there needs to be a shift in how we define economic success, shifting from GVA measures to most holistic measures measuring wider wellbeing and local wealth. Furthermore, it is important that local, regional and national stakeholders take action to ensure that CED “speaks to” wider policy processes. Local communities must push for this recognition, and policy makers must recognise the power of community-led approaches that are rooted in the priorities of local citizens.