Priorities for Building Community Wealth
Researchers and practitioners have identified five priority areas for Building Community Wealth: Assets; Places; Economy; Work; and Procurement.
Community Wealth Building is about building a fairer and more sustainable economy, creating opportunities for those at the social and economic margins and regenerating our most disadvantaged places. There is much to build on. We have strong social enterprises, a powerful locally based credit union movement, social finance providers and technical support. Both central and local government support many of these initiatives but we need to create a genuine partnership to move Community Wealth Building to the next level.
Assets - The priorities for the socially productive use of land and property assets
- Legislation is needed, including the right to buy and the right to challenge, to support community asset transfer.
- General Disposal Consent is also essential but should reflect the structure of the public sector in Northern Ireland.
- Financial accounting guidance on the disposal of assets should take account of social as well as market value.
- A comprehensive register of public land and buildings should identify a pool of assets with potential for community transfer.
- Bespoke finance, linking capital and revenue funding, is needed to underpin community asset transfer.
Places - The priorities for making financial power work for local places
- We need to make better use of social finance at a UK level to support local projects.
- Financial Transactions Capital could direct fund social enterprises in deprived areas.
- Strengthen support for community shares and community bonds.
- Change the capital rules for credit unions and allow them to invest in the social economy.
- Diversify grant and social investment to meet the needs of social enterprises of different sizes and structures.
- Improve financial literacy and budgeting skills, particularly in the poorest communities.
- Embed participatory budgeting and evaluate the proposal for a mutual bank for Northern Ireland.
Economy - The priorities for plural ownership of the economy
- Restructure deprived places by building a workable, sustainable, and locally embedded economy in which social enterprises play an anchor role.
- Deliver a comprehensive financial management skills programme across the social enterprise and cooperative sectors.
- Explore, replicate, and scale high-impact community businesses.
- Experiment with spatial interventions such as Community Wealth Building hubs and Social Enterprise Zones to help rethink area-based regeneration more broadly.
- Provide integrated revenue and capital funds, building in loan, grant and social finance to ensure the long-term viability of social enterprises and asset transfer schemes.
Work - The priorities for fair employment and just labour markets
- Integrate social enterprises and intermediate training schemes into Labour Market Partnerships across local authority areas.
- Develop integrated pathways connecting employment-readiness support with youth work to help access the most hard-to-reach groups.
- Better integrate area-based training, including lifelong learning, work-readiness, and technical apprenticeships within the social enterprise sector.
- Campaign for grant makers, charities, local government, and businesses to pay the living wage.
Procurement - The priorities for progressive procurement of goods and services
- Strengthen the investment and contract-readiness of social enterprises and their capacity to innovate to address local problems through a community wealth approach.
- Redesign the structure, size, and type of contracts where social value is a priority.
- Local commissioning groups should prioritise social enterprises where they are the most effective way of targeting social need.
- Shift the culture within the social economy to strengthen social enterprise consortia and supply chain integration with the private sector.
- Build procurement anchor networks across local authority areas.