Glasgow City Region (GCR) is working to take forward Community Wealth Building (CWB) as an economic development approach. Taken together the eight councils under the Region have an annual procurement budget of over £2 billion.
In June 2021, the Region published a Regional Sustainable Procurement Strategy aimed at extending the collaborative approach to progressive procurement objectives beyond the scope of just the Region’s £1.13 billion City Deal infrastructure programme, to include wider infrastructure investment and to broaden the reach of the Strategy to wider Regional Anchor Institutions. The strategy embraces the principles of CWB and sets out the ambition to maximise the impact of procurement spend on the Region’s most deprived communities by ensuring the Region’s approach to community benefit is tailored to the specific needs of local communities.
The Strategy is implemented by Guidance for the adoption and application of a consistent, standard approach to the procurement of contracts and the delivery of community benefit outcomes. Up until the end of 2022 the regional City Deal Programme alone has delivered 970 community benefit outcomes for priority group beneficiaries and £97,000 of financial support to community projects. This includes 168 new jobs, 423 targeted skills and training opportunities, 160 training qualifications and practical support provided for 82 community projects. On top of this, 102 benefits have been delivered to Local SMEs and over £142.3 million worth of contracts have been awarded to local companies. A further 700 community benefit opportunities and £55,000 of funding have been obtained in contracts with a combined value of £416.5 million. Keep up to date with latest news for the Region and case studies for benefits delivered by subscribing to the Region’s YouTube channel.
Building on this progress, the Region is about to break new ground with the launch of the first Regional Social Value Initiative that has been codesigned and constructed through true partnership collaboration. Policy and operational guidelines are in place that to set out how a new community wishlist will work and be managed, to place benefits directly into the hands of local people. As a rung on the CWB ladder, wish lists are an emerging concept within the public sector recognised as a practical means on delivering a well-being economy where communities can put forward requests for specific goods, services, resource or benefits that can then be provided by contractors delivering public sector contracts.
Throughout development of the regional initiative, the Regional Third Sector Interface (TSI) group has been represented on the wishlist Working Group and the Region has engaged with the Glasgow City Region Community Panel, made up of a number of recruited volunteers from community groups to get their view on the initial concepts.
Two of the Region’s member councils are piloting the approach locally and the wishes fulfilled to date in East Renfrewshire include bunting for a village show, rainbow benches for a friends of park group and art supplies for a children’s art group. An example of the types of wishes requested available for selection from South Lanarkshire’s list include for the donation of new IT equipment for an employment and education charity who work with disadvantaged local people, who are unemployed and struggling to move into the world of work.
The Region’s wishlist is being built to future proof for the wider, Regional ambitions of the strategy and will serve to extend the delivery of community benefits from predominantly construction sector works contracts into contracts for goods and services and may be opened up to anchor institutions to harness their procurement spend. A later phase includes plans for a marketplace to facilitate the exchange of offers made by businesses to community groups.
The Regional wishlist is a new and exciting means by which to bring the spending power of procurement under the control of local people to be used for benefits that can really make a meaningful and lasting impact in local communities.
Anita Jane Smith, Legacy Officer, Glasgow City Region