does it work?
The CWB approach is built around 5 key principles that frame the practical action you can take. Critically, to make it work, local institutions need to work together to pool their money, assets and ideas. These ideas may well be familiar to you – CWB is about working on a bigger scale, or with closer integration, to maximise impact.
1. Promote local ownership
(Also known as ‘Plural ownership of the economy’)
Globalisation has had an impact locally, displacing local producers and service providers, by offering economies of scale. Even when we want to, it can be difficult to promote local businesses, and particularly those types of businesses that are rooted in our communities.
Local and democratic ownership – and particularly the development of local housing organisations, social enterprises, co-ops – and buying from local suppliers keeps the wealth generated locally in local hands. That’s mainly because these types of enterprises are more likely to employ and invest in local people, putting money back into the local economy. The Centre for Local Economic Strategies estimates that the benefit is as much as an extra 23p for every pound you spend compared to larger firms who are not invested in that locality.
That’s not to say that larger companies, including those operating in several locations, can’t be community wealth builders. Some larger businesses bring significant benefits to local economies through their fair work and procurement practices; sometimes also by geographically distributing senior jobs and decision making.
To ensure that community businesses flourish, local institutions will need to provide practical supports such as developing their business skills, advice on IT and HR, help with identifying and securing work spaces, and access to finance.
Sometimes smaller organisations can benefit from access to shared facilities and services.
Questions to ask yourself
What are we doing to incentivise ethical business practices?
Is there a clear plan which all the major institutions have signed up to that supports smaller social enterprises to develop? What sort of ‘support in kind’ can we collectively offer through employee secondment, access to training, or advice?
Who is doing this already?