Introduction to the Preston Model or Community Wealth Building
[Cllr Matthew Brown Action on Homes Speech]
The whole idea of the Preston Model or Community Wealth Building, as it’s more commonly known is to really create an ecosystem in communities which works in favour of local people and local organisations.
So it’s trying to have an alternative economic approach that tries to circulate wealth through communities, which tries to promote real living wages, increase the amount of affordable housing, but crucially make sure that the ownership of the local economy is in a lot more hands.
So it’s not just necessarily outside corporations that might not pay the tax that a lot more of the economy is actually in the hands of local people Through having ownership models which they can actually share in the community.
Community wealth building needs to be applied in each particular locality because what Preston’s like is probably going to be quite a different to yourselves in Brighton but obviously the issues of inequality, the current form of Economics which you’ve had in polls nationally is the same.
I think what you can do is get all your big institutions together like the council can convene housing providers, universities, hospitals and make sure that the wealth that’s in there already through where they recruit, where they purchase, What they do with the London assets could benefit people in Brighton and especially dealing with people who are under lots of housing stress.
Local Ownership and Sharing of the Community Economy
So by doing that you have quite an entrepreneurial local state where you’re act together to try and achieve common outcomes, which are based around trying to deal with these Issues.
Without a doubt I mean our NHS has been quite a strong partner very recently, they’re doing pretty amazing things I mean for example the recruiting in the areas where deprivation is the highest, care assistants, get people into jobs there.
There’s a former NHS site where the delivering, well they will deliver very soon new housing by one of our registered providers which is actually housing cooperative, technically A Community Gateway, we’ve even taken over a private Care Facility just this week!
So they’re working very well now in terms of how what they do doesn’t just deal with health issues but the causes of the health issues which is the deep-seated inequalities in some parts of the community of Lancashire.
We are working with our institutions as well as getting developers to provide at least 30 percent Affordable Housing and then child poverty’s fallen in the last three years!
Alternative Economic Approach to Circulate Wealth in Communities
I mean I was at Brighton for Party (Labour) Conference, I think some of the businesses are fantastic, independent businesses I see lots of them there I do see quite vibrant social economy there to a degree which I think can be grown by tourism but you’re right there’s got to be a way to restrict the extraction of wealth away by often corporations.
Extract wealth out of the community to make sure that people are less well off because they’re going into the hands of institutional investors often somewhere way across the globe. Two of the largest global developers Tried to come into Preston and regenerate our city centre and that would have seen the semi privatisation of public assets put into a vehicle and the fact that didn’t happen now is probably one of the best things that happened to Preston in my opinion. Because we would have seen wealth extraction, privatisation of land.
When that fell through it is to harness all the institutions together and make sure we could you know use that public wealth to benefit the community through regeneration and other things in Brighton and it seems like it is still quite strong in terms of the public landing assets, but I think the key thing is actually having a culture where those land assets, you look at them strategically and you try to deal with problems around inequalities by having them.
A Whole Place Approach to Community Wealth Building
I think a lot of councils they just think well we’ve got a hotel or a golf course and we got you know 10 000 houses we just have to manage them they’re not thinking strategically about how they can actually reduce inequality as well as elements of uh of struggle.
Yes I mean there was an acceptance of some of the ideas but when I was talking about the need to put more of the local economy in the hands of the workers that is just something that uh a member an officer level that people are used to hearing to be honest.
So what did help Jim is the examples of you know alternative economies in parts of Europe which have been highly successful and especially the Evergreen cooperatives in Cleveland Ohio, were the abuse of purchasing power to establish a number of work-around businesses and supply goods and services that weren’t being supplied already to the Anchor institutions.
That really did inspire me so yeah the new ideas are quite frightening for some but I think when there’s an Evidence base of how radical economic policies are being applied in other areas and it’s having positive social impact, I think people learn and I think what did bring people around is just a complete failure the way things were working.
Balancing the Books while Working with Other Institutions
Beforehand the sense of austerity really biting and officers thinking well how can we deal with that uh you know failures in the previous lead inward Investments regeneration approach I think all that led to this and acceptance of these new ideas but I mean I don’t want to be too hard on Brighton and Hove, I don’t think you should be because they’re facing huge um cuts as well and difficulties in um budgets too.
I think maybe they are looking at selling off just to balance the books which is something they’ve got to do really but I think what they can do potentially is look at how they can you know work with other institutions and have an inventory of the current assets and seeing how that potentially could work for social benefit a little more they’re not doing already really.
A Whole Place Approach to Community Wealth Building
It’s trying to bring a whole place approach to community wealth buildings which is really important I mean one of the pillars of community welfare wealth building is making Financial power work for places so councils have their own Investments which I mean we’re looking to internally borrow to invest directly in our local economy to build a Cinema or Leisure development which will be publicly owned,
As I said earlier there’s procurement so it’s looking at the services can they do things like break contracts down into pieces, so a lot more of it are likely to be won by locally based businesses instead of you know the big corporations often win lots of this public contracts.
Council Investments and Their Potential for Social Benefit.
I think we’re the public pension fund invests is quite key because that could get a return uh in the region because that the one in Lancashire that we’re part of is worth 10 billion and we persuaded it to invest 100 million in Preston and in the neighbouring districts some years back, but we want that to go a lot further!
Then as I said earlier land assets can you know raise you know Community wealth as well I mean land could be transferred to community organisations they could run a service that will you know tackle poverty and other things.
I’ve not been informed by my office as other governments about the switch to this digital situation, what I do know is that the staff have not increased and the problem has and I do know that they are working very hard and under, you know a quite difficult circumstances, but again we as members oversee these things because, ultimately we are the people who people vote for in Preston and as I said really importantly people can go in the town or speak to someone and I think that is the most human thing to do.
Whether that happens in every single city of town I don’t know, I can imagine in Brighton it’s that larger City and there’s that many organisations, sometimes it’s difficult to get them all together but that could be an advantage because if you did have some kind of new strategy that would be city-wide and have Community Support, that would involve all those 100 plus organisations, I think that could be something that could be quite powerful to be honest!