Scotland and the wider world face many big economic challenges.
Relying on old measures like GDP, top-down regeneration and the concentration of wealth in a few hands has failed to deliver genuine economic success.
However, Community Wealth Building (CWB) promises a more practical, inclusive and sustainable approach to development.
According to the UK Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), 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”.
The approach combines a number of broad characteristics. This includes more democratic, shared ownership of the economy, with support for the development of SMEs, social enterprises, employee ownership, cooperatives, municipal activity and community enterprises.
Fair employment practices, just labour markets and meaningful work are a vital component too, alongside social and progressive procurement of goods and services that uses spending by key organisations to support more diverse and resilient local businesses.
It’s also about making financial power work for local communities, investing locally and encouraging national bodies to invest locally too, plus maximising the productive use of land and property for social good and community benefit.
The question for social enterprises is how do we play a full part – and indeed lead – on this agenda? CWB is clearly of direct interest and benefit to social enterprise development and the local people and groups that we exist to serve.
North Ayrshire Council has been at the forefront of piloting Community Wealth Building at a local level in Scotland. Mhairi Paterson, Community Wealth Building Co-ordinator, North Ayrshire Council says:
“The recent health emergency and economic crisis has highlighted the importance of creating a new economic model focused on wellbeing and inclusion. North Ayrshire has some of the highest levels of social and economic deprivation and vacant and derelict land in Scotland. At the same time, we are facing a climate crisis, with the Council declaring a Climate Emergency in 2019.
“To help address these challenges, North Ayrshire Council launched Scotland’s first Community Wealth Building (CWB) Strategy in May 2020 with the mission of enhancing local wealth, creating fair jobs and maximising the potential of …….