Community wealth building

Wealth building for our local economic recovery

This article was originally published by LGiU

Economic recovery from Covid-19 looks set to be a long and painful process. Beset by business failure, huge levels of unemployment and social hardship, it will take government action on a scale unprecedented in modern times to safeguard the wellbeing of millions and drive the transformation required to build back better.

The public health crisis has seen an amazing response from communities, with energy and imagination that comes from solidarity, empathy and a genuine belief in the power of working together. This power needs to be harnessed, however. With the main economic crisis unfolding at pace, we now have private equity firms waiting in the wings to snap-up distressed business assets and take an even greater ownership stake in our economy. The stakes are high and to prevent us from falling into an “Amazon recovery”, where big businesses and corporate behemoths are the only winners, we must seek to animate the power of the community within the commercial economy.

Cities for people, not shareholders

This piece originally appeared in the Guardian.

Covid-19 has caused terrible pain, but offers the chance to halt the financial juggernaut that sucks wealth from our urban centres

The pandemic is changing the way we live in cities. Many people are now working from home and spending more time in their local communities. While some smaller businesses have reported they are thriving, urban centres are struggling to survive. The benefits of this drop in commuting for carbon emissions, health and wellbeing are at odds with the financial model that has long underpinned city centre economies. It’s no surprise that the arbiters of financial capitalism have insisted that workers must return to the office. But what if instead of resisting these profound economic changes, we embraced them and built something better than the urban economy of the past?

England’s First Land Commission Focused on Community Wealth Building

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, has today announced the establishment of England’s first Land Commission specifically established to review the use of public land for community wealth building, to be delivered in partnership with CLES.

Since the 1980s, land has come to be primarily treated as a financial asset, serving as a collateral against which banks create mortgage debt.   This has led to rising house prices and housing shortages, and has reduced overall productivity, with an increasing share of investment diverted to land from other more productive areas.

From Coronavirus to Community Wealth – Building Back Better in Northern Ireland

Just over a year ago, our organisations – the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) and Development Trusts NI (DTNI) – jointly penned Time to build an inclusive local economy – A Charter for Change, setting out a community wealth building approach to local economic development in Northern Ireland.

A lot has changed since then. Theresa May no longer occupies Number 10; Leo Varadkar is no longer Taoiseach; Stormont is back; Brexit is happening – bringing with it disruptions to trade in Northern Ireland. And we have suffered, and continue to suffer, the enormous social and economic turmoil brought about by Covid-19.
“For all too long, the economy in NI has not been working well for people and place.”
Amidst all this change, some things, however, have remained constant. Northern Ireland’s economy – even prior to the onset of coronavirus – had still not recovered fully from the financial crisis. For all too long, the economy in NI has not been working well for people and place. Poverty and inequality remain stubbornly entrenched, and NI suffers from the highest rate of economic inactivity across the UK – an unenviable record it has held for over three decades.

Own the Future – In practice

While the easing of the Covid-19 lockdown accelerates, a yawning gap is opening where we urgently need a national plan for economic rebuilding.

There can be no substitute for this – the crisis has shown it will take government action on a scale unprecedented in modern times to safeguard the wellbeing of millions and drive the economic transformation the pandemic has shown to be so critical. But below the radar of UK national policy debates a truly progressive economic response is being forged which foreshadows the approach we so urgently need.

Own the future: a guide for new local economies

Build back better. It’s a powerful phrase, but as post-Covid-19 economic policies begin to emerge, those three words are starting to ring hollow.

Based on what we have seen so far, there is little reason to think that what will transpire over the coming months and years will build back anything other than a worse economy than the one we had before. We will continue along a path that delivers on GDP but leaves a stain of rising in-work poverty, that creates a gulf between property owners and renters and that is accelerating rapidly towards ecological disaster.

  • A green recovery for local economies

    Covid-19 and the climate emergency both expose in different ways the fundamental lack of resilience in how we develop local economies in the UK. There has been a lot of talk about how we must “build back better”, but if we want a green recovery worthy of the name, it will mean confronting these underlying issues once and for all.

    Local economies are, right now, between a rock and a hard place: the rock – an unprecedented economic collapse, with mass unemployment, business failure, and social destitution for many; the hard place – the looming threat of climate emergency, with every new hot day a reminder that the clock is ticking towards ecological collapse.

  • POLICY PROVOCATION

    A Green Recovery for Local Economies

    2nd July 2020
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  • Wealth-building for our local economic recovery

    This article originally appeared in the MJ

    As we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 lockdown, calls for local government to lead the economic recovery are getting louder. Key among these voices are local politicians who have stewarded their places through the last two months. Many are convinced of the imperative to build back better, committed to leaving behind the failed models of trickle-down economics and ready not just to recover, but to embrace progressive reform with ideas such as community wealth-building.

    For these local leaders, this unfolding crisis has brought home what they already knew – that the economic model we have followed in recent decades has failed and will fail further if not amended. Far from delivering the promise of prosperity for all, it has left too many less secure and worse off, enriched the already wealthy few and propelled us further down the road to ecological disaster.

  • Community Wealth Building: from the UK to Australia

    There are over ten thousand miles between Preston, Lancashire and Bendigo, Australia – and at times like this we can really feel the distance. With our communities stuck indoors, it is all too easy to forget the interconnectedness that binds people and places.

    That is why it is timely to today celebrate a new relationship in the community wealth building family, in the form of a new international collaboration between CLES and .

    Recovery is a fork in the road

    This article originally appeared in the The MJ

    Over the last month we have seen local government accomplish things which just weeks before would have seemed the stuff of fantasy: a huge redeployment of staff and the repurposing of buildings, fleet and supply chains to supply critical goods and services; and the creation of new welfare, employment and business advice services to name but two.