How does a wellbeing economy relate to inclusive growth and community wealth building?


The OECD highlights the importance of moving away from an attitude of “grow first, redistribute and clean up later” towards a more equitable, sustainable economic model with people at the centre. (OECD, 2019).

The wellbeing economy approach emphasises that economic growth should not only be sustainable and inclusive but should also serve as a means to an end – that of collective wellbeing of people and planet – rather than be considered an end in itself. It seeks to reorient and rewire the economy to embed equality, inclusion and environmental sustainability from the outset.

It also views the economy through a broader lens, as a system which includes unpaid work (such as care, domestic labour and volunteering), public services and infrastructure (including social, digital and natural).

It challenges us to reflect on how we value different aspects of our economy; something that was brought into sharp focus during the pandemic, with the foundational role of ‘key workers’, and our critical infrastructure, sectors and services coming to the fore.

In order to build economic, social and environmental resilience to future shocks, this approach emphasises the importance of safeguarding, maintaining and investing in our ‘four capitals’ (natural, human, social and produced/financial), which are described further in Annex A.

The wellbeing economy approach recognises that the economy is everybody’s business – from health and care to education, and from housing and energy to food and agriculture – requiring a joined-up focus across government at all levels, across all sectors of the economy and all parts of society.

A useful explanation of the wellbeing economy concept, and how it relates to the concepts and policies of an ‘inclusive economy’ and ‘inclusive growth’, has been produced collectively by Public Health Scotland, the Improvement Service, COSLA and the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) Scotland.

The Community Wealth Building (CWB) approach is a key practical means of delivering on wellbeing economy objectives within the sphere of local and regional economic development. CWB is designed to harness the economic leverage of local anchor organisations to tackle long-standing systematic challenges and structural inequalities within our communities. It seeks to transform our local and regional economic systems to enable more local communities and people to own, have a stake in, access and benefit from the wealth our economy generates.

CWB can deliver more and better jobs, business growth, community-owned assets and shorter supply chains, creating greater resilience and supporting net zero ambitions. It acts as a framework for activity across five interlinked pillars: spending, workforce, land and property, inclusive ownership, and finance.

More information on CWB is available via the Further Resources section in Annex E.

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