Community wealth benefits locals

Local residents and businesses are reaping the rewards of a pioneering approach to local economic development in Preston, Lancashire, as highlighted in a new report published today by the progressive economics think tank, CLES.

Community wealth building through anchor institutions, reflects on three and a half years of work carried out by CLES, collaboratively with Preston City Council and eleven other anchor institutions to put into practice progressive economics that truly benefits people and place.

The report details a number of achievements which have been influenced by this work and driven organically by the institutions themselves.

  • 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 report also details the success of work to change behaviour in anchor institutions, which has led to increased levels of cooperation between the organisations and a recognition of their important role in the place they are based. Businesses are also benefitting as procurement officers develop their approach to consider social alongside economic values.

Councillor Matthew Brown of Preston City Council said:

“In the last decade it has become increasingly clear that our current economic model is not producing the outcomes we want to see.  This timely publication highlights ongoing work to build community wealth in Preston and shows there are many successful alternative strategies that can be applied to create a good local economy.’

Neil McInroy, Chief Executive of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies said:

‘Places across the UK are striving to find new ways of attracting wealth, enhancing economic growth and addressing poverty. For CLES, the attraction of wealth is important; but of more importance is understanding and harnessing existing wealth for the benefit of local economies and communities. That is exactly what we have done in Preston through our anchor institution work, and continue to do across the UK through our pioneering work in community wealth building.’

Matthew Jackson, Deputy Chief Executive of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies said:

‘In Preston, over the last three and a half years we have worked collaboratively to harness the potential of just one component of community wealth building, anchor institutions. We have seen a model where the scale of those institutions has been recognised and real tangible change realised. The anchors work more cooperatively, they understand where their spend goes, they know what scope there is to influence spend, and they have changed their cultures, most notably around progressing their procurement processes and practices to benefit local people and places.’

To read the report in full, click here.


Notes to editors

  • For images, interviews or further information, please contact Amy Clancy on 0161 236 7036 or by email
  • Established in 1986, CLES is the UK’s leading, independent think and do tank realising progressive economics for people and place. CLES aims to achieve social justice, good local economies and effective public services for everyone, everywhere.
  • ‘Community Wealth Building through Anchor Institutions’ reflects on work undertaken collaboratively in one locality (Preston over the last three and a half years) and particularly details: what CLES has done; what the work has achieved; what still needs to be done; and what other places can learn.
  • Preston City Council are longstanding members of CLES. Over the years, Preston City Council has accessed bespoke research and training services offered by CLES. In addition to membership activities, CLES seeks to forge long term pieces of policy advice work with local authorities and other institutions; a prime example being work around anchor institutions which has been undertaken for the last three and a half years and will continue into the future.