Michael Sheen, John McDonnell and Neil McInroy discuss The Preston Model

Neil McInroy, CLES’ CEO,  joins actor and political activist Michael Sheen and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell to chair round table on the innovative work of Preston City Council and its partners around community wealth building.

  © The University of Central Lancashire

Over the past three and a half years CLES, has worked collaboratively with Preston City Council and six other anchor institutions to put into practice progressive economics that truly benefits people and place. Now known as the ‘Preston Model’, the programme is succeeding in developing the local economy in Preston and the surrounding areas in Lancashire, through strengthening local supply chains and increasing the number of local jobs.  The achievements have been published in a recent report by CLES, Community wealth building through anchor institutions.

Key achievements include:

  • Preston City Council is now investing £4 million into the city as a result of re-directing its spend and doubling the proportion going to businesses based in Preston, from 14% in 2012 to 28% in 2016.
  • Lancashire County Council has introduced a framework for its spending which seeks to create local jobs and other benefits, such as apprenticeships, as part of every decision.
  • Lancashire Constabulary now measures the impact that its spend brings to local people and business, for example through the development of its new headquarters in Blackpool, it aims to maximise the local benefit as a means of addressing poverty.
  • UCLAN is pioneering the development of new cooperatives which means local ownership of organisations and new jobs.
  • Preston’s College has developed links between their contractors and students to provide on the ground learning in construction.
  • Community Gateway has been measuring the wider impact of its work for a number of years, which means every £1 they spend brings an additional £1.08 benefit for Preston, as their spend with Preston businesses and people is then re-spent with local retailers.

© The University of Central Lancashire

Michael Sheen OBE, said: “I first read about what was happening in Preston through recent media coverage and it got me really interested to find out more. I was excited to hear the journey they’ve been on and to explore what other communities, like my hometown of Port Talbot, might be able to learn about drawing on that approach.

“This week I’ve been announced as the new Patron of Social Enterprise UK, so it feels right to be in Preston looking at how institutions can help grow a truly social, local economy and support empowering the people of our communities. The way the Preston model uses the Social Value Act is inspiring and should provide encouragement to towns across the U.K. that this is possible.

“I’m really pleased to see high level political interest in these ideas with John McDonnell also visiting on the same day and I hope all political parties invest time in understanding where cooperatives, social enterprises and the wider social economy can provide real solutions to the wide array of challenges facing our communities.”

Neil McInroy, CLES Chief Executive said: ‘The work CLES is doing in Preston shows us what can be done to develop local economic thinking and practice everywhere.  This is about building an economy, which works better for local people, business, social sector, cooperatives and social enterprise.  I sense we are at the beginnings of a movement, with CLES work and collaborations in Birmingham, Oldham and 11 European cities is testament to that’.

Read recent coverage of The Preston Model in The Guardian.

Read coverage of CLES’ work in Birmingham in The Guardian.