Community wealth building in the time of Covid-19

CLES has recently released two papers that lay the groundwork for post-Covid-19 rescue, recovery and reform of the economy.

At the core of the papers lies a simple emergent truism – there is no going back to the economy of old.  As we enter into a period of national and local recession, we will see unprecedented levels of business failure and unemployment. Whereas before, within a period of climate emergency, we may have been fighting economic sluggishness and poverty, we now face an ongoing ecological catastrophe coupled to social destitution. We face irreversible structural and societal change.

Owning the future

The first of these papers – written in collaboration with the US-based research and development lab The Democracy Collaborative – highlights some of the perils we face as we begin to emerge from the crisis, before making the case for community wealth building as the vehicle to drive the required systemic change.

Rescue, recovery and reform

In the second paper, we begin to sketch out a framework for action, following the pillars of community wealth building.

  • Rescue: Preventing job losses and immediate business failure.
  • Recovery: Making the transition out of the rescue phase by allowing those valuable parts of the economy to be bolstered to thrive rather than falter.
  • Reform: Ensuring that that the wellbeing, ecological and inclusive aspects of economies are planned for and given the sustenance to flourish.

CLES’ work draws on the practice we have witnessed from our many partners in local, regional and national governments over the course of a decade of community wealth building in all four nations of the United Kingdom. The present crisis makes the case for community wealth building all the stronger.  We now stand ready and willing to support those at the front line of an era-defining rebuilding process.



  • Local supply chain: Analysis on the impact of Covid-19 on your supply chains and the role procurement and commissioning will play in local economic recovery.
  • Labour market: Mapping of at-risk sectors and geographies and possibilities for skills transfer to new growth sectors.
  • Assets: Reviewing your asset register to determine how it can support local economic recovery.
  • Local Economy Explorer: Determine how you can repurpose your local economy using bespoke data tools.

Recovery to reform action plans

  • Community wealth building: Evaluation and assessment via a rapid deep dive on strategies and actions needed to bend and scale existing policy to support recovery and reform.
  • Economic resilience: Understanding the composition, influence and relationships of the private, public and social sectors using CLES’ models.
  • Local Green New Deal/Local Industrial Strategy: Developing sectors and skills, business diversification programmes and asset-based transitions for a greener and fairer future.
  • Place-based strategy: Working with localities to understand and analyse place specific issues (i.e. neighbourhoods, district centres, town centres).

Anchor institution strategies

  • Networks: Engaging with and convening anchor institutions to build effective networks
  • Impact: Mapping the local social, economic and environmental impact of anchor institutions
  • Input: Exploring how anchor institutions can contribute to recovery and reform plans

In addition, CLES can offer strategic advice, training and capacity support, acting as a guide and critical friend. If you would like to discuss this, or any other work, please get in touch.

Get in touch if you would like to discuss this or any other work with us.