Think tank CLES has called on whoever forms the next government to introduce a Community Wealth Building Act to create a more inclusive economy.
In a new manifesto, the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) calls for a ‘new social contract’ to address why people, places and communities are being left behind.
The manifesto specifically calls on whichever party wins the December General Election to pass a Community Wealth Building act, which would set out how the government will build an inclusive economy based on the community wealth building principles that have now been adopted by dozens of municipalities across the UK. In addition, it calls on the next government to create a community wealth building unit in Whitehall, which will be placed within the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
According to CLES, the unit would host networks for local government and other public sector anchors and act as a clearing house for best practice, offering support and training. The manifesto also calls for every council to be given the power to create a public development corporation. ‘These should ultimately replace private developers as the primary drivers of the regeneration of publicly owned land, so that the return from land and property development is fed back into the public purse,’ the manifesto states. ‘However, in the transition period, private developers as partners should be retained.’
The manifesto also calls for the next government to pass a Green New Deal, but also recommends that all local and combined authorities are statutorily mandated to develop their own Local Green New Deal within one year of a national Green New Deal coming into law. It also calls for an end to austerity, with an immediate review of funding to help vulnerable people and a new constitutional framework to redress ‘imbalances of power and wealth’.
‘This is a defining election for the UK. It’s bigger than 1997,’ said CLES chief executive, Neil McInroy. ‘It’s even bigger than 1945. In our local economies, too many people, places and communities are being left behind. This demands a huge step change – a new social contract with action across government to achieve social, economic and environmental justice.’