Economic Development and Community Wealth Building in Scotland by Neil McInroy
The emergence of the climate crisis and the pandemic has changed our world and highlighted the urgent need for fundamental change to our economy. In this, the global movement of Community Wealth Building offers Scotland a systemic and historic step change to how we approach the economy and the role of economic development.
Today, new patterns of work, consumption and production in light of the pandemic and the climate crisis have raised critical questions as to who the economy works for and how wealth is created and distributed.
Community Wealth Building with its focus on wealth and who an economy works for is key. It advances economic development into a new era of genuine economic system change – tackling the causes of wealth inequality and transforming how wealth flows to secure a wellbeing economy for people, place and planet.
CWB works to retain and circulate more wealth within the Scottish economy. Building upon Scotland’s tradition of progressive policy to create new fair work opportunities, help local businesses and co-operative and inclusive ownership models to expand, and place more assets in the hands of local people and communities – it can deliver a genuine and fair stake in our economy for all Scots.
CWB provides Scotland the opportunity to create a generative economy where financial and capital investment is made more responsive to the local economy, social need, land, our natural environment and climate. CWB also works to rebuild and re-establish robust local supply chains that support local business’, well-paying jobs, and reduce our carbon footprint. Indeed, with transport and shipping being our largest source of carbon emissions, this focus on growing local supply chains will be a key policy in ensuring Scotland achieves its ambitious target of being a Net Zero economy by 2045 – making our economy work better for people, the planet, and providing Scots a greater share of the wealth they produce.
To achieve the above Scotland’s CWB hones in on the five pillars of Community wealth (see Figure). In this, localities and constituent economic players across the public, private and social sectors seek to “turn the dial” on these pillars. There is a growing number of places producing focused CWB actions plans across all of these pillars, as part of their economic strategies, which are delivering key individual and collective transformative actions.
Significant progress has made on action plans in several localities and regions over the past year. This includes North Ayrshire/Ayrshire region, alongside 5 other areas – Clackmannanshire, South of Scotland, Western Isles, Tay Cities/Fife and Glasgow City Region. Other localities are picking up the CWB agenda, with Glasgow City, Dundee City, and South Lanarkshire all pressing ahead with CWB plans. This is combined with activity taken place in a number of health boards universities, Third Sector Interface’s, businesses and other anchor organisations as part of CPP’s. The roll out continues and will be enhanced when we introduce a CWB Bill during this Parliament. This Bill will consolidate and augment existing activity, whilst securing greater economic leverage and benefit for local people and communities.
At the centre of this transformation are local politicians, public officials, business leaders, community representatives, and activists; and of course, economic development practitioners as key catalysts. This series of events hosted by EDAS is your opportunity to tell us how we deliver the positive change Scotland needs. Let’s get going!
Neil McInroy (Community Wealth Building Advisor, Scottish Government)