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North Ayrshire Council to take ‘radical’ new approach to economic recovery after COVID-19

Largs seafront, North Ayrshire - Image credit: Ronnie Macdonald via Flickr

North Ayrshire Council to take ‘radical’ new approach to economic recovery after COVID-19

North Ayrshire Council will take a “radical” new approach to economic recovery after COVID-19, the council has announced.

The approach is based on community wealth building (CWB), which involves spending public money locally, keeping wealth generated within the local area, encouraging community ownership and using land and property in a socially just way to boost the local economy and tackle poverty and inequality.

Part of this involves the council and other ‘anchor institutions’, major bodies such as colleges and universities, housing associations and emergency services, using their spending power on goods and services from local suppliers.

“Essentially CWB is about working in partnership with communities and businesses to build a more resilient economy that works for local people, which supports fair work, encourages local spend by public bodies, uses the land and property the public sector owns for the common good, and supports new ownership models such as co-operatives, all of which helps to keep the wealth generated local,” explained North Ayrshire Council leader Joe Cullinane.

Increasing inward investment into the region is also an important part of the strategy.

Preston City Council in the north west of England has been taking this approach to economic development since 2011 and has seen the benefit of it, with reduced deprivation and more employees paid the living wage, as well as more local investment by anchor institutions.

Between 2012-13 and 2016-17 the amount of procurement spend by six Preston anchor institutions increased by £74m within Preston and by £200m within the wider Lancashire area.

Based on the top 300 contracts for each anchor institution, over that period total spend within Preston increased from five per cent to 18.2 per cent and within Lancashire from 39 per cent to 79.2 per cent at a time when overall procurement spend across the institutions reduced by 15 per cent.

Cullinane said: “For decades, like every area in the country, we’ve been chasing inward investment in the hope that economic growth will trickle down and benefit people who live in communities like ours.

“All that happened was the economic divide between affluent cities like London and Edinburgh and areas like ours in the west coast of Scotland only grew deeper.

 “Even before this pandemic emerged North Ayrshire Council was at the forefront of new economic thinking.

“And that thinking is going to be even more important than ever post COVID-19.”

The leader of Preston City Council, Matthew Brown, will join Cullinane in a live Facebook conference on North Ayrshire Council’s Facebook page on 14 May for the official launch of the strategy.

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