Community wealth building

  • Local government at the heart of a just transition

    As the energy price cap rises today, CLES Senior Researcher, Ellie Radcliffe, reflects on her recent visit to the Apse Big Energy Summit and considers the role of local authorities in balancing climate and economic justice.

    Nearly three years since three hundred local authorities began to declare climate emergencies, the removal of the energy price cap today arrives as the Big Six energy companies have recorded over a billion pounds of profits. This is just part of the picture, with oil and gas giants BP and Shell spending over £147 billion in stock buybacks and shareholder dividends since 2010 – seven times more than what would be needed to keep households’ energy bills at a manageable level.
    “we need an approach to decarbonisation which changes the fundamental building blocks of economies”
    Such profiteering hits to the heart of why we need an approach to decarbonisation which changes the fundamental building blocks of economies, making them work for ordinary people and our places, as well as the planet. At CLES, we advocate for community wealth building as a pathway towards this just transition, with local government at its heart.

    The 51%

    What if gender equality was at the heart of local plans for a more inclusive economy?

    Efforts to rebuild and recover economic prosperity in a time of crisis often fall back on morale boosting images of – generally male – executives, gathered around a building site with hard hats. Economic partnerships and task forces assembled to help areas develop new plans for the future, too, can struggle with diverse representation, not only from women but from marginalised communities of all forms. Even the way in which we evaluate economic progress – in assuming that it will emerge automatically from economic growth – underestimates the importance of prioritising economic equality and diversity as a foundation to a more inclusive economy.

    Anchoring our ports

    This article originally appeared in the LGC.

    The government’s new freeports are likely to extract wealth and opportunity from local communities, but there is an alternative, writes Sean Benstead.

    At this year’s spring budget, the government announced the creation of eight freeports across England to promote regional regeneration, create high-skilled jobs and ensure sustainable economic growth.

    The brave

    Four lessons from Scotland in delivering community wealth

    At the close of the 2021 Community Wealth Building Summit, we reflect on remarks by our opening keynote speaker Tom Arthur MSP and the work that CLES has undertaken with the Scottish government over the last 12 months. The lessons learned should resonate with governments of all scales in Scotland and the wider community wealth building movement.

    In his opening remarks to this week’s Community Wealth Building Summit, Tom Arthur MSP argued that community wealth building provided an “opportunity to approach economic development in a new way” in order to help create “common prosperity”. As the Scottish Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth, Mr Arthur has put community wealth building at the forefront of his agenda arguing that it needs to sit across government, providing a “whole system approach” to an inclusive economy. He also confirmed the Scottish government’s intention to introduce a Community Wealth Building Bill during this parliament, to consolidate changes in practice and enable local anchor organisations to use their economic leverage to deliver more for local people and communities.

  • A community wealth building energy transition 

    On the eve of COP26, and with the challenges we face in tackling the climate crisis becoming ever more apparent, CLES and Carbon Co-op today release a major new toolkit for councils, a community wealth building energy transition.  The toolkit shows that councils have a vital role to play in addressing the climate emergency in a way that generates the greatest benefit for communities.   

    A critical element of tackling the climate emergency will be the transition away from fossil fuel-based energy – meaning a significant shift in the way our energy system operates, and how we generate and use energy. The government’s most recent announcements – with their heavy emphasis on new and innovative technology around hydrogen and nuclear energy – are blind to the importance of ensuring that this transition serves local people and places. But, as is becoming ever more apparent, our localities are where the social and economic consequences of the climate crisis will be felt. That is why we have developed this toolkit: to explore the work happening across the UK to progress the energy transition on a local level, whilst also building community wealth and – most importantly – to enable local authorities to develop their own community wealth building energy transition.  

    Podcast: community wealth building – present and future

    The second of two podcasts from CLES – following on from community wealth building: a history, released last month – this special episode explores the moment we are in and the prospects of community wealth building in the UK.

    With commentary from CLES’s incoming and outgoing CEOs, Sarah Longlands and Neil McInroy, the podcast takes a deeper look at the incremental changes that local governments can employ, to turn the dial to create economic, social and environmental justice for their place.

    Community wealth building: a history

    Today, CLES releases Community wealth building: a history, a transcript of our recent podcast, and the first publication under the banner of the recently-refreshed Community Wealth Building Centre of Excellence (CfX). Here, Tom Lloyd Goodwin explains why we felt that now was the time to delve deeper into the provenance of the approach.

    Community wealth building reorganises local economies to ensure they are best placed to tackle the inequalities and disadvantages that are now, more than ever, so acutely felt by people across the UK. Over the course of the last decade, the movement has advanced from being a marginal sport. It has blossomed into a widely-adopted corrective to an economic model that has left too many people worse off, enriched the already wealthy few and propelled us further down the road to ecological disaster.
    “this wider historical context contains a series of important lessons”
    To celebrate this ever-flourishing movement, CLES recently released a podcast, looking at the provenance of the approach and, in this, we felt there was an important story to tell. A lot of people have heard about the “Preston model” but few are clear about its history, and how that relates to the movement we see now. Yet this wider historical context contains a series of important lessons.

    Podcast: community wealth building – a history

    This new podcast from CLES tells the story of the conceptual and practical origins of community wealth building, through the voices of thinkers and practitioners, from Clackmannanshire to Cleveland.

    The first of two episodes to be released in the coming months, part two will explore the moment we are now in for local economic development, how that relates to community wealth building and the on-the-ground processes that are incrementally turning the dial towards system change.

    Our Land 

    Today we launch the final report of the Liverpool City Region Land Commission: Our Land. Reflecting the findings of England’s first Commission to review the use of land for community wealth building, the report argues that a new approach to land should put communities, not profit, at its heart. Below, CLES’s Isaac Stanley reflects on the Commission’s nimble approach and the radical recommendations found in the report. 

    The Liverpool City Region Land Commission was launched in September 2020, at the initiative of Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram. Facilitated by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), the Commission gathered together thirteen experts on democratic land reform, ranging from activists involved in community land trusts, makerspaces and social enterprise incubation to academics and national planning policy reformers and international campaigners for the commons.
    “make this the fairest and most socially inclusive city region in the country”
    They were invited to “think imaginatively and come back…with radical recommendations for how we can make the best use of publicly-owned land to make this the fairest and most socially inclusive city region in the country”. This report, prepared by CLES, is based on the deliberations and contributions of the Commissioners and presents their key findings and recommendations.  

  • FINDINGS

    Our land

    6th July 2021
    ...
  • Paint your town a rainbow

    This article originally appeared in the MJ

    Community wealth building is on the rise. As an intentional reorganisation of the local economy, to tackle inequality and disadvantage, it is needed now more than ever to address the significant challenges that are being felt so acutely in our homes and communities.

    Dating back to the mid noughties, CLES’s work on aspects of community wealth building have developed into a powerful corrective to an economic model that has left too many people worse off, enriched the already wealthy few and propelled us further down the road to ecological disaster.

    Local elections 2021: Ideas for new administrations

    This article originally appeared in The MJ.

    Economic recovery from COVID-19 will be a long and painful process. When the pandemic struck, we at CLES argued for a new common-sense approach to economic development based on the principles of community wealth building.

    From this emerged our plea for local government to muscle-up and embrace a series of key interventions to lead the charge to build back better. In our Own the future publication, we fleshed out a number of practical actions, which taken together, constitute an achievable vision for a just recovery and the social, democratic and economic reform of localities, led by local authorities.