Community Wealth Building

During the Big Listening Project in 2018, which heard 10,000 views from 6,000 people, and the Big Listening Festival in 2021, which collated views from over 2,000 people, our residents told us they wanted a fairer and more inclusive borough and this priority is now a central part of our Deal 2030 strategy.

Community Wealth Building will help us tackle economic inequality locally and create a fairer borough with greater opportunities for all.

Our vision and principles document sets out how we will move forward with this approach to create sustainable social, economic, and environmental benefits for all our residents for decades to come.

As we progress with our community wealth building approach, we will publish a yearly report to track, celebrate and share our progress.

We've also put together the following video to explain what Community Wealth Building is all about and why it's important to Wigan Borough.

What is Community Wealth Building?

Community Wealth Building aims to place control of our local economy in the hands of our local people, businesses, and communities. It's about how we work, along with our partners and businesses, to use our budget for goods and services, recruitment, land, and property in ways which reorganise the local economy to retain wealth in the borough and ensure benefits and inclusive opportunities for local people. We can achieve this by:

  • Recruiting from all our communities
  • Procuring from good, local businesses
  • Ownership of the economy by local people
  • Developing new growth sectors
  • Skills training to match a new economy
  • Shaping markets to benefit local people.

Crunching the numbers

We want to use the public money that is intended for Wigan to tackle our greatest challenges and create an economy that is fairer.

  • The Council alone spends £350 million on goods and services, employs 4,500 people and owns 20% of the borough’s land
  • 40% of that is spent with Wigan based businesses. If we increase it by 11% that would mean an additional £30 million spend on Wigan businesses
  • These businesses in turn would spend approximately another £13 million with their own suppliers and employees in the borough
  • An increase of 12% in Wigan and neighbouring borough suppliers (from 53% to 65%) would equate to an approximate £33 million additional spend with local businesses
  • Currently 74% of council staff live in the borough. 20% live in neighbourhoods in the top 20% most deprived nationally and 11% live in the top 10% most deprived nationally.

Why is Community Wealth Building important?

Our borough is becoming increasingly unequal. While employment rates have been very high in recent years, often that work doesn’t pay. 30,000 jobs (one-third of those in the borough) pay below the Real Living Wage and average earnings have fallen over the last decade. With the impact of COVID-19 and the damage it is doing to our economy, this situation is likely to get even worse with increased unemployment and the potential for wages to fall even further.

In many important ways, the national economic approach that promises we will all benefit from economic growth has failed. We need a new approach to grow an economy that is fairer and works for all of the people of our borough.

What would we do?

  • We can make a difference by increasing the proportion of people in secure, living wage paid jobs from our neighbourhoods with the greatest potential.
  • We can increase the community use and control of council-owned land and assets, particularly those which are currently underutilised
  • We can significantly reduce carbon-based energy in 22,000 homes and our other buildings and across our fleet with investment in locally based green businesses
  • We can grow economically generative local businesses, including cooperatives, social enterprises, and employee-owned businesses

As an anchor partnership, we can increase our ability to achieve these ambitions significantly. There is an estimation £1 billion of public spending and 22,000 employees working for Wigan’s anchor institutions. This shows the transformative power of a Wigan anchor partnership for community wealth building.

Does this replace the Deal or become a part of it?

Community Wealth Building is the next stage for The Deal to intentionally strengthen our local economy. In fact, for many years we have been practising many elements of Community Wealth Building, via the Community Investment Fund and the ethical homecare framework. Now, we want to build on the success of The Deal and apply the Deal principles, thinking and behaviours to scale up that intent and ambition to make the local economy work for our residents. This approach aligns with our Deal 2030 priority of creating ‘Economic growth that benefits everyone.’ Like The Deal, we can all play our part in helping where we live.

Wigan Borough’s Partnership for Community Wealth Building

The public sector in Wigan borough spends millions of pounds each year. Collaborating with the borough’s other ‘anchor institutions’ means we can have an even more powerful impact locally. Wigan’s anchor institutions, such as the college, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group, have come together and created a partnership which will drive forward this approach.

© Wigan Council