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Community Wealth Building overview

Community Wealth Building (CWB) is about working with communities and businesses to build a strong local economy. To benefit communities, it seeks to address wealth inequality by:

  • supporting fair work 
  • encouraging local spend 
  • using the land and property we own 

CWB seeks to use the economic levers available to local authorities and other Anchor Institutions to support their local economies. This is to ensure that wealth is locally owned and benefits local people.

It is about how we work as an organisation and with partners. From the goods we buy, the people we employ, the assets we own and the power we have to bring about change. We want to maximise local economic opportunities.

We want North Ayrshire’s economy to be better and fairer. CWB is at the heart of our local economic approach to support our businesses and communities. We want to build resilience for the future, including the climate emergency. 

Read our 2024 to 2027 Community Wealth Building Strategy.  

For an overview of Community Wealth Building and what it means for North Ayrshire, watch our short animations below:

Understanding Community Wealth Building

Community Wealth Building in North Ayrshire

Anchor Institutions 

These are organisations that are rooted in the local area. They employ a lot of people and have real buying and spending power. For example, the Council, NHS and Ayrshire College.

We have brought the key Anchor Institutions in Ayrshire together and created a Community Wealth Building Commission which will drive forward this new approach. Success will need collaboration. One example of this is looking at the collective spend across all the Anchor Institutions and how to shift this to the local economy. 

Our Anchor Institutions have signed an Anchor Charter, committing to long-term collaboration. This is to support shared CWB goals to improve collective wellbeing. Also to create a strong, resilient and inclusive local and regional economy. 

The pillars of Community Wealth Building

Community Wealth Building (CWB) uses five pillars to encourage Anchor Institutions to use their organisational power to keep wealth local. These pillars are to create more economic benefits for our local area: 

  1. Progressive Procurement – We will use our spend to actively encourage and support a growing, diverse and resilient local business base and to support our net zero carbon ambitions. 
  2. Fair employment – We will encourage the creation of fair and meaningful jobs with progression opportunities to unlock the potential of our residents. 
  3. Land and Assets – We will support the wider regeneration of our communities by maximising all our land and assets including through alternative uses for community and business benefit. 
  4. Financial Power – We will invest locally and encourage regional and national institutions to invest in our communities. 
  5. Diverse Ownership – We will support the creation and sustainability of a range of business models including SMEs, social enterprises, employee ownership, cooperatives, municipal activity and community enterprises. 

Our 2024 to 2027 CWB Strategy includes a range of case studies. It shows where CWB is already happening in North Ayrshire in line with each of the five pillars. 

The importance of Community Wealth Building

North Ayrshire Council introduced Community Wealth Building (CWB) to ensure social, economic and environmental justice for North Ayrshire’s communities. The answer is no longer traditional economic growth. This has failed to address poverty and inequality and has left some places and groups behind. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, with real change needed, we focus on creating a fairer local economy. 

At the same time, we are facing an environmental crisis. The council has declared a state of Climate Emergency and we have committed to act now to reduce carbon emissions across North Ayrshire. 

CWB is the means to deliver wellbeing. We will work alongside communities and local businesses to enable them to create and own wealth in their area. 

Our 2024 to 2027 CWB Strategy highlights the progress we have made since launching Scotland’s first CWB Strategy in May 2020. 

Community Wealth Building and the climate change agenda 

Community Wealth Building (CWB) aims to create a fairer and more sustainable local economy. Our strategy recognises that the impacts of our changing climate are likely to hit the most vulnerable in society the hardest. The climate crisis is a key concern for our young people. 

CWB encourages everyone think more about keeping it local, allowing shorter supply chains. Adapting our use of land and assets will support the council to meet its net zero carbon targets and ensure a sustainable local environment. 

The construction of solar photovoltaic farms at two former landfill sites in Irvine, Nethermains and Shewalton is now imminent. This project allows the council to repurpose its land whilst also providing an opportunity to tackle the climate emergency and reinvest financial returns from renewable energy generation back into North Ayrshire. 

CWB is a key mechanism to achieving a wellbeing economy. A wellbeing economy works for people and planet and delivers social, economic and environmental justice for all. It prioritises fair distribution of wealth, opportunities and privileges within our society, all on a healthy, thriving planet. This is our aspiration for North Ayrshire’s economy; to be inclusive to all our residents, with wealth and opportunities fairly distributed and for our young people to reach their full potential as part of a sustainable future. 

Measuring success 

We view our Community Wealth Building (CWB) journey as a long-term transformational agenda for the council and our partners. 

We will track progress on each of the 53 CWB actions ensuring we deliver our objectives across all CWB pillars and are on track to achieving our vision of a wellbeing economy. 

We will also use our inclusive economy dashboard to track our progress on delivering a wellbeing economy. The dashboard will act as a framework to ensure our CWB approach is being used to develop our local economy which is socially inclusive but also within safe environmental limits. 

Ultimately, what matters are the outcomes we achieve and that have a real impact on our communities. 

We will know we have been successful when, there are: 

  • reductions in poverty and inequality in North Ayrshire 
  • more well paid and fair jobs for local people 
  • more local businesses, including those owned by communities and workers 
  • sustainable communities with increased levels of wellbeing and that are proud of the places they live

CWB is a key driver of our Council Plan, which has fairness and equity at its heart. The delivery of the actions within the strategy will contribute to the achievement of key Council Plan performance measures. This includes the: 

  • percentage of children living in poverty 
  • percentage of working age population in employment 
  • percentage of procurement spent on local enterprises 
  • percentage of those earning less than the Living Wage 
  • hectares of vacant and derelict land in North Ayrshire