Community wealth building (CWB) is a 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.
Developed initially by the Democracy Collaborative in the United States, and championed in the UK by the progressive economics think tank Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), CWB aims to ensure the economic system builds wealth and prosperity for everyone.
There are five core principles to Community Wealth Building:
- Progressive Procurement – developing local supply chains of businesses likely to support local employment and keep wealth within communities.
- Fair Employment and Just Labour Markets – Using anchor institutions to improve prospects of local people.
- Shared Ownership of the Local Economy – supporting and growing business models that are more financially generative for the local economy.
- Socially Just Use of Land and Property – developing the function and ownership of local assets held by anchor organisations, so local communities benefit from financial and social gain.
- Making Financial Power work for Local Places – increase flows of investment within local economies by harnessing and recirculating the wealth that exists.
Anchor organisations are large employers with a strong local presence in an area. They can exert sizable influence through their commissioning and purchasing of goods and services, through their workforce and employment capacity, and by creative use of their facilities and land assets. Positive use of these aspects can affect social, economic and environmental change in an area. Anchors can be your local council, university, college, housing association or NHS health board.
CWB in Scotland
The Scottish Government is committed to exploring the potential for CWB as an approach to delivering inclusive growth across Scotland, with six key projects in development across a range of contexts in Scotland starting with Ayrshire. Neil McInroy, Chief Executive of CLES has been seconded into the Scottish Government to help embed this way of working in our economic development, and support these six projects.
As part of the Ayrshire Growth Deal, the Scottish Government have committed up to £3m a CWB Fund for Ayrshire, to develop Scotland’s first regional approach to CWB. This fund will be made available regionally and activity will be co-designed by the Scottish Government and the Ayrshire Regional Economic Partnership.
CWB in practice
There are already some great examples of CWB across Scotland. To showcase some of this fantastic work, and to help people understand what CWB can look like in practice, we are building a library of case studies.