Solutions

Promote community wealth building

Promote community wealth building

Support co-ops to thrive in their localities by anchoring them within place-based industrial and community wealth building strategies.

At present local economies are too often indifferent to people and place, underpinned by extractive and distant ownership models that suck capital out of places. An alternative approach is community wealth building which seeks to embed co-operative values in the operation of the local economy.

Radical local industrial strategies and innovative place-based community wealth building are crucial to co-operative development. This would develop democratic models of ownership and control and increase the retention and circulation of wealth within local communities. A number of interlocking steps can help achieve this:

Require local authorities to produce place-based industrial strategies
Co-operatives should be seen as a key aspect of these strategies because of their innate capacity to retain and build wealth in a place.

Introduce a new approach to create genuine and powerful place-based localism
New powers to support this could include:

  • A new community right to shape local industrial and economic strategies
  • A new community right to list and bid for an asset of economic value, and to share ownership of local developments
  • More diversified measures of local economic success than gross value added

Encourage local procurement and commissioning strategies
There is a clear case for a more strategic use of procurement and commissioning to support co-operatives and social enterprises. The steps to achieving this are:

  • Anchor institutions should commit to using local small and medium sized businesses, community sector, third sector, social enterprise and co-operatives in their supply chains
  • Contracts above a certain value should require bidders to demonstrate how they will use the local supply chain
  • All other suppliers should be encouraged to source locally where possible and to consider local businesses and co-operatives when sub-contracting
  • Larger procurement should be broken into smaller lots where possible, to enable and encourage local SME, third sector, co-operative and social enterprise participation
  • Where larger contracts are unavoidable, there should be a requirement on suppliers to obtain quotes from co-operatives, social, community and local SME enterprises

Support coops and other local businesses to bid for anchor institution contracts
The regional Co-operative Agency should support local authorities in such building community wealth building strategies, in partnership with groups such as Co-operatives UK. This could include:

  • Pre-market engagement to provide training, advice, mentoring and feedback to help prepare bids
  • Supporting the formation of local consortia if larger contracts require scale
  • The creation of local portals to enable co-operatives, social enterprises and SMEs to easily see available opportunities, and anchors and larger businesses to understand the local market and easily obtain quotes

Policy in practice

Projects that demonstrate the benefits or may be helped by polices like this.

  • The Larder
    This workers' co-operative connects local growers with businesses in the fightback against food poverty.
  • Preston Community Wealth Building
    Preston, recently named the UK's "most improved city", has pioneered more democratic ways to build local wealth.
  • Rock House
    A community-rooted development company transformed a run-down office block into a creative, collaborative, mixed-use hub.
  • Impact Hub
    Impact Hub is a community centre and co-working space which aims to build a more equal and just city.
  • Equal Care Co-op
    Co-op matches those seeking care with care workers and professionally trained volunteers.
  • The Exchange
    This community arts centre has plans for workspaces, exhibition space and housing in neglected local buildings.
  • The Clipper
    Local residents bought an empty pub and turned it into the city’s first community-owned market.
  • Suma Wholefoods
    Suma, Europe’s largest equal-pay co-op, recently celebrated its 40th birthday.
  • Islington Community Wealth Building
    Islington, with some of the richest and poorest residents in the country, aims to build a more democratic economy.
  • Schools’ Energy Co-operative
    Schools’ Energy Co-operative has installed solar panels on schools across the country, working with a network of local groups.