Over the course of the last ten years, the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) has undertaken work around, what we call, ‘Local Wealth Building’. This work has sought to challenge the orthodoxy of the UK’s approach to economic development. In recent weeks, this work has been portrayed by national media as a core cog in reinvigorating our local economies and places. It has come with some critique, the more pertinent of which this piece seeks to address.
What is Local Wealth Building?
Local Wealth Building is a growing movement in Europe and the USA, and the ideas and practice of local wealth building are coming to the fore as a reaction against a liberal economic approach to ideas, and the extractive nature of return on local inward investment. The orthodox assumption that economic benefits will ‘trickle-down’ to the local economy and will benefit communities is being challenged, like never before.
How one city became an unlikely laboratory for Corbynomics
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn singles out work of CLES and Preston Council for praise in a major speech on public ownership and the economy.
Re-municipalisation? Not the catchiest term, but across Europe and the UK, local government is on the rise. Instead of succumbing to the inevitability of decline and being the last line in mopping up social pain, more people within local government are stepping in – making the economy work better for all.
For many years, economic growth hitched to public sector reform has been the mantra. For some areas it is working, but growth is often meagre or fails to trickle down, and reform is often eroded by demand. The promise of a ‘devolution revolution’ turned into an evolution and is now largely stalled. Inclusive growth has opened doors to a questioning look at economic growth policy but it’s more geared toward national policy. Indeed, warm words around ‘unlocking the potential of growth’ offers nothing particularly new to what many local authorities have been doing for years in terms of adopting living wage policies, working with local business and local labour markets. However, alone this is no enough.
CLES continues to undertake work around community wealth building and particularly anchor institutions in Preston, Birmingham, Oldham and across 11 cities in Europe.
This week, CLES Deputy Chief Executive, Matthew Jackson will be presenting the key findings of our recent publication ‘Community Wealth Building through Anchor Institutions’ to three audiences: the Salford Social Value Alliance, the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Policy Network, and the Lowestoft Commissioning Academy.
The function of local economic development needs to evolve. Understanding and working with the wealth of local anchor institutions is one way forward, says Matthew Jackson
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.
Places across the UK are striving to find new ways of attracting wealth, enhancing economic growth and addressing poverty. For the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), the attraction of wealth through inward investment is important; but of more importance is understanding and harnessing existing wealth for the benefit of local economies and communities.
The CLES Deputy Chief Executive, Matthew Jackson will continue to undertake work across Europe for the next two years as part of the URBACT III funded Procure network.
How Preston City Council is managing its finances has won praise from Labour’s shadow chancellor. John McDonnell MP said initiatives being run by the city council to drive up local spending and working with the local Chamber of Commerce were a ‘new economics’.
Public sector organisations like councils and colleges can do much to work with suppliers on their doorstep and stimulate local economies. In Lancashire work is underway to ‘repatriate’ spending. Anchor institutions are crucial components of our towns and cities. Commonly including local authorities, further and higher education providers, and housing organisations, they are key employers and procurers, embedded in their communities and unlikely to leave. In a UK context, the potential of anchor institutions to contribute to wider local economic development has been untapped – until now.