Plans to create a local economy that works for every resident and each borough-based business have been revealed by Wigan Council.
Community Wealth Building was already at the forefront of the local authority’s outlook for 2020 but has now taken on even more significance for its post-Covid-19 recovery.
It will see public sector and community organisations across the borough working closely together, using their resources to promote growth and reduce inequality with new focus.
Wigan Council has been working alongside the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) to develop its CWB framework
Coun Keith Cunliffe, deputy leader of Wigan Council, said: “This is the next stage of the Deal – it’s about putting control of our local economy back in the hands of local residents, businesses and communities.
“We can all make simple, little changes that can make a huge difference. As organisations that will mean making sure a greater share of public money is kept circulating within the borough. As individuals, it can mean buying from local businesses and supporting our local shops, as many of us have been doing during the pandemic.”
The council – alongside the public sector anchor institutions within the borough – will adapt recruitment, tendering and skills policies to provide greater support for the borough’s economy. It will also focus on the green economy and other growth sectors, while continuing to support co-operatives, social enterprises and community schemes as part of the Deal.
Alison Mckenzie-Folan, chief executive of Wigan Council, said: “Building a fairer and stronger economy is one of the key priorities of the Deal 2030 and something which has become even more pertinent since the pandemic. In recent months we’ve seen businesses struggle to survive and people facing an uncertain future.
“As one of the biggest employers in Wigan Borough we have a responsibility to do everything we can to build a resilient economy that puts the local community at the heart of everything we do. Together, with our partners, we believe we can create a fairer economy, an economy that puts our residents first.”
Fellow anchor institutions working in partnership with the council includes the borough’s health and education sector organisations such as Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles, Wigan Borough CCG and Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust and Greater Manchester Police.
Louise Brown, Vice Principal Corporate Services at Wigan & Leigh College said: “As one of the largest employers within the borough, the College is delighted to be involved in this initiative and recognises the economic impact and significant benefits that Community Wealth Building will bring to the Borough and our College community, including supporting the expansion of high quality work placements and apprenticeship opportunities for young people in the borough.”
Fran Jones, associate director at CLES, said: “Across the country we’re seeing growth in the take-up of community wealth building as a powerful approach to building inclusive local economies.
“Through the Deal, I see an underlying conviction that power should be shared with citizens and solutions co-designed. Wigan’s emerging approach has the potential, alongside the other anchor institutions, to be extremely powerful.”
Wigan Council’s Community Wealth Building principles were approved by cabinet members last week and a digital launch event for anchor and partner agencies was held on Monday.
Coun Cunliffe added: “Together we can transform our economy and have a real impact on the quality of life our residents can lead here in the borough. We have seen other areas have success with CWB principles, we are putting our own unique Wigan-stamp on it to drive forward our ambitions in an extremely challenging post-pandemic environment.”