Inaugural Local Wealth Building Summit beckons a new era for UK economy

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TODAY, the UK’s first Local Wealth Building Summit will take place, at the University of Birmingham, to showcase and galvanise the growing movement of people and places taking back control of their local economies.

The summit has been organised by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) in partnership with the University of Birmingham and Barrow Cadbury Trust, and will take place in Birmingham where a significant programme of Local Wealth Building has been underway, since 2016.

A new CLES report, Local Wealth Building in Birmingham and Beyond: The New Economic Mainstream, detailing this work will be launched at the summit alongside plans to accelerate the scale of the Local Wealth Building movement through the formation of a new centre of excellence.

Neil McInroy of Centre for Local Economic Strategies commented:

“Local Wealth building is new approach to economic development that addresses the failure of the current economic model to benefit local economies and people. Local Wealth Building was born out of a frustration with ‘development as usual’ approaches that fail to prioritise good employment, reductions in poverty and economic security.”

Local Wealth Building provides a practical framework for generating and spreading wealth within communities. The new report charts a course for a future in which local wealth building becomes the mainstream approach to local economic development practice in the UK. It also outlines ten years of CLES’ work on Local Wealth Building and the fruits of this approach, which can now be seen in the growth of inclusive living wage jobs, invigorated local supply chains, greater concentrations of local business and increased local spending.

The report goes on to showcase the Local Wealth Building work taking place in Birmingham, Europe’s largest local authority area, where work with six Birmingham based Anchor Institutions has demonstrated the potential for them to play a defining role in shaping the city’s economy.

Significantly, the report provides practical steps for local politicians, public sector organisations and people working in local economic development to grow Local Wealth Building across the UK.

To accelerate the adoption of Local Wealth Building (LWB) policy and practice in the UK, CLES has been awarded funding by Barrow Cadbury Trust to develop a centre of excellence and facilitate a new Birmingham Anchor Network.

Neil McInroy continued:

“In a growing number of towns and cities across the UK and beyond, people are taking back control of their local economies in a move that is set to play a central role in shaping the future of the national economy. Through the Local Wealth Building Summit and Centre of Excellence, we aim to refine and develop the diverse experiences and thinking taking place, and translate this into practical action.”

Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council  commented:

“In many ways the Birmingham economy is thriving, and yet despite attracting record levels of investment the challenges of high unemployment, deprivation and inequalities remain. We need to do much more as a city to ensure the wealth we generate stays in the local economy, creating truly inclusive economic growth. I’m excited to be working with CLES and believe Birmingham has a big role to play in the local wealth building movement. We have an opportunity to work differently with partners across the city, creating an environment where local wealth building becomes the norm and Birmingham’s successes are shared across the city.”

Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice Chancellor of the University of Birmingham commented:

“Problems of wealth inequality and persistent poverty are defining issues of our time and local wealth building offers a powerful and practical response, spreading wealth through the very functioning of the economy. We know that the University contributes £3.5 billion to the economy every year. Our research and knowledge activity alone is worth £885 million and almost 1 in 50 jobs in Birmingham depend on the University. As one of the most economically influential institutions in the city, we are committed to local wealth building and, as such, it is fitting that we are hosting today’s summit. We passionately believe that the economic power of anchor institutions is a resource that needs to be maximised to benefit our local communities.”

Sara Llewellin from Barrow Cadbury Trust commented:

“We have been thrilled to watch the city of Birmingham lead the way in local economic development thinking and practice.  For a city of its size to be able to embrace collaboration across sectors, putting local wealth sharing at the heart of their everyday activities and transactions, gives a green light for other UK cities to do the same”.


Find out more about Local wealth Building here.