© Getty/ Smederevac

In practice

Community Wealth Building for a well-being economy


Glasgow City Region, Scotland, United Kingdom —

  • Community wealth building is a placed-based approach to development that seeks to harness the wealth that communities create by pre-distributing it and redistributing back into the hands of local communities and people. The Glasgow City region developed a Community Wealth Building plan focusing on spending and land use to create more local jobs, encourage training and develop a plan for land use that includes, economic, social and cultural priorities.

  • Empowering local communities, focusing on local procurement and building social investment can help to improve local well-being and build economic resilience.

Published on the 05/01/2024

KeywordPlace-based revitalisation, Innovation, Inclusion

Geographic scaleRegion / State

CountryUnited Kingdom

Download PDF

What are the objectives?

Community wealth building (CWB) is a placed-based approach to development that seeks to harness the wealth that communities create by pre-distributing it and redistributing back into the hands of local communities and people. The CWB approach has been used in communities across the globe to boost and share community wealth in both urban and rural areas. CWB is a concept but also a model in practice to rewire economic systems for a more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient future.

Scotland’s CWB approach is based on five pillars that can be tailored to the needs and priorities of local communities:

  • Inclusive ownership: Developing more local and social enterprises which generate community wealth;

  • Spending: Maximizing community benefits through procurement and commissioning and shorter supply chains;

  • Workforce: Increasing fair work and developing local labour markets that support the wellbeing of communities;

  • Land and property: Growing the social, ecological, financial, and economic value that local communities gain from land and property assets; and

  • Finance: Ensuring that flows of investment and financial institutions work for local people, communities and businesses.

In December 2021, Glasgow City Region (comprising of eight local authorities) published its own Regional Economic Strategy, outlining its commitment to community wealth building., The region aims to develop actions across all five pillars of Community Wealth Building, with the support of Centre for Local Economic Strategies and the Scottish Government.

How does it work in practice?

Glasgow City Region's (GCR) initial focus was on two pillars: spending and land. Under the spending pillar, the region pursued sustainable procurement within the construction sector to benefit Scottish firms, secure a pipeline for apprenticeships, and create more local jobs. The land pillar focused on developing an action plan to use vacant and derelict land for social, cultural, and environmental purposes.

With the strategic plans for spending and land and property already in place, GCR is now looking to advance its efforts across the other three pillars of Community Wealth Building, by ensuring actions incorporate the wider regional economic strategy and building on what anchor organisations are doing already. Anchor institutions can be public, commercial and third sector organisations such as health boards, universities, local councils, and longstanding local business that give back to society and have a long standing relationship within a community. This approach aims to create a more sustainable and equitable regional economy, benefiting local communities and businesses.

What has been the impact?

To date, many pragmatic solutions have been implemented to trigger greater impact in GCR, including:

  • The development of a Sustainable Procurement Strategy to increase local spending and retain more regional spending.

  • The creation of a consistent community benefits reporting system for the city of Glasgow’s specific contracts (City Deal), to highlight and promote the benefits as well as providing support to employees when needed.

  • Taking a regional and local attitude to repurposing vacant land to benefit local communities and implementing the Clyde Climate Forest initiative to plant 18 million trees and increase canopy cover in urban and rural areas by 2030.

What can other communities learn from this example?

  • Focusing and increasing local procurement spending can create employment opportunities and boost local economies as public money is reinvested locally.

  • Empowering communities by supporting inclusively owned enterprises, enabling local groups to take over assets and embedding fair work practices, can improve local well-being and build economic resilience.

  • Social investment opportunities can improve incomes and job security while reducing pressures on public services.