Community wealth building
The Scottish Government has adopted the internationally recognised Community Wealth Building (CWB) approach to economic development as a key practical means by which we can achieve our wellbeing economy objectives outlined in the National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET).
CWB is designed to harness the economic leverage of local ‘anchor’ organisations (such as local councils, health, universities, colleges, housing associations, or large local private sector employers) to tackle long standing systematic challenges and structural inequalities within our communities. It seeks to transform our local and regional economic systems to enable more local communities and people to own, have a stake in, access and benefit from the wealth our economy generates. Community Wealth Building can deliver more and better jobs, business growth, community-owned assets and shorter supply chains creating greater resilience and supporting net zero ambitions.
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.
CWB acts as a framework for activity across five interlinked pillars:
Maximising community benefits through procurement and commissioning, developing good enterprises, fair work and shorter supply chains.
Increasing fair work and developing local labour markets that support the wellbeing of communities.
Land and property
Growing social, ecological, financial and economic value that local communities gain from land and property assets.
Developing more local and social enterprises which generate community wealth, including social enterprises, employee owned firms and cooperatives.
Ensuring that flows of investment and financial institutions work for local people, communities and businesses.
CWB in Scotland
There has been significant progress in implementing CWB in Scotland over the past few years. Much of this has been led by local authorities, often in partnership with their community planning partners.
We have been working with local authorities and other partners to build capacity to help drive forward the implementation of CWB at the local and regional level, including supporting five CWB pilot areas:
- Glasgow City Region
- South of Scotland
- Western Isles
We have committed £3 million to advance CWB in Ayrshire through the Ayrshire Growth Deal.
Each pilot area developed and implemented bespoke Community Wealth Building action plans focusing on delivering actions such as:
- growing local supply chains
- supporting the creation of good fair work opportunities for local people
- promoting the Real Living Wage and wider fair work objectives
- bringing vacant and derelict land into more productive use
- using land as a tool to achieve net zero
- maximising the community benefits associated with procurement and developing local supply chains
- supporting local firms to take part in public procurement contracts
Inspired by the work of these pilots, The Scottish Government Covid Recovery Strategy: for a fairer future has also committed to supporting all of Scotland’s local authorities to develop their own CWB action plans as part of their economic recovery plans supporting both the creation and retention of good quality local employment opportunities.
Our partnership with Economic Development Association Scotland (EDAS) has supported the further implementation of CWB through communities of practice, open workshops, peer support and development of materials to support anchor organisations develop, implement and realise the benefits of CWB approaches.
The Programme for Government 2021-22 set out a commitment to bring forward Community Wealth Building legislation within this Parliamentary session. The legislation will attempt to address blockages identified within the areas leading the implementation of CWB and support further embedding of this approach, building on the good practice already underway. A CWB Bill Steering Group has been established to support this work, chaired by Tom Arthur MSP, Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth.