The principles of community wealth building

Traditional economic development practice and developer-led regeneration are failing to address the economic challenges of our time. Community wealth building is a new people-centred approach to local economic development, which redirects wealth back into the local economy, and places control and benefits into the hands of local people.

Since 1986, CLES has been working with people across the UK and internationally, who can imagine a better way of organising our local economies, and making it a reality.

In 2007, we started developing a new approach to economic development in the UK – community wealth building. This approach is rooted in the European Social Democratic tradition, in which the state works to protect public values and achieve good outcomes for citizens. It has also drawn inspiration from community wealth building pioneered by the Democracy Collaborative work in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Mondragon cooperatives of the Basque Country.

Community wealth building is a response to the contemporary challenges of austerity, financialisation and automation. It seeks to provide resilience where there is risk and local economic security where there is precarity.

Collaborating with progressive places, such as Manchester and Preston, we have developed tried and tested strategies based on five key principles:

CLES is at the forefront of community wealth building, working together with people across the globe.

Read our publications, case studies and policy work on community wealth building →


Anchor Institutions

The term ‘anchor institutions’ is used to refer to organisations which have an important presence in a place, usually through a combination of: being largescale employers, the largest purchasers of goods and services in the locality, controlling large areas of land and having relatively fixed assets.

Anchor institutions are often tied to a particular place by their mission, histories, physical assets and local relationships.Examples include local authorities, NHS trusts, universities, trade unions, large local businesses, the combined activities of the community and voluntary sector and housing associations.

Guided by community wealth building principles, anchor institutions can play a defining role in creating and reinforcing local economic ties.


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