Community wealth building

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Local authorities across the globe have suffered significant financial burdens and disrupted income streams throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Community wealth building is being highlighted in policy papers and recovery plans as a new approach to local economic development to support sustainable social and economic recovery.

Read The Recap

Our 17 August 2021 Global Local Recap on community wealth building

So what is community wealth building?

Community wealth building seeks to ensure wealth generated within a local economy benefits local residents, businesses and organisations.

Key mechanisms for this include local investment, collective ownership and support for locally-owned businesses.

The approach has been advanced by the UK-based Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) and the US-based Democracy Collaborative, in collaboration with a number of local authorities.

CLES has developed five community wealth building principles, described in this LGIU blog by Isla Whateley:

  • Plural ownership of the economy:
    A more democratised economy not just owned by big business, encouraging co-operatives, and harnessing wealth in the place it is created
  • Making financial power work for local places:
    Using mechanisms such as community banking and alternative local currencies etc.
  • Socially just use of land and property:
    Fair use of land assets by anchor institutions, making sure they use it for community purposes
  • Progressive procurement of goods and services:
    Developing local supply chains of businesses that are likely to support local employment, retaining more wealth locally
  • Fair employment and just labour markets:
    Recruiting from lower income areas, paying the living wage and building equal progression route

What does this look like on the ground?

Speakers from Scotland and Australia shared experiences and insights into integrating community wealth building into local government policy and actions at our latest virtual Global Local Executive Panel.

LGIU members can watch the recording of the event here

Recordings of our previous Global Local Executive Panel events are accessible for members on the event series workstream.


Introducing our speakers and their approaches


Craig Hatton, CEO, North Ayrshire Council, Scotland

Community wealth building in North Ayrshire
Earlier this year, North Ayrshire Council launched its Community Wealth Building Strategy, becoming the first Council in Scotland to adopt this bold and radical economic approach. This blog tells us how it works and how they hope it can make a difference to communities.

Monica Barone, CEO, City of Sydney, Australia

Emerging from the pandemic: The City of Sydney’s Recovery Plan
The City of Sydney’s City Recovery Plan sets out the next steps in the council’s response to COVID-19 and its impacts. The plan focuses on financial, organisational and community recovery, with a particular focus on community impacts.

Patrick Fensham, Principal & Partner, SGS, Australia

A more inclusive approach to economic strategy for local communities
This briefing introduces the concept of community wealth building and how it could benefit Australian local governments in this period of economic disruption. This briefing summarises information from a more detailed SGS paper authored by Patrick Fensham.

More on community wealth building and pandemic recovery


Covid-19: Recovering from the virus – sustainable local economic strategies

CLES and the Democracy Collaborative have published two reports that urge a new approach to economic development. This briefing summarises the two reports and comments on the policy implications. Read the briefing here.

Bundle: Town and city – sustainability, recovery and resilience

This bundle brings together two series of briefings and other recent LGIU work looking at how towns and cities are responding to crises now and planning for the future. From open and engaged urban planning to using data to reinvigorate the high street, we share examples from around the globe and how you can apply those lessons where you live and work.
Read our content here.

Wealth building for our local economic recovery: Harnessing the power of the local community

Economic recovery from Covid-19 looks set to be a long and painful process, writes Tom Lloyd Goodwin, Associate Director at CLES. He urges progressive reform through community wealth building as a way of driving sustainable local economic growth. Read the blog here.


Community wealth building is the theme of this week’s Global Local Recap from LGIU.

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