Last year Fife Council and the Fife Partnership committed to an internationally recognised approach to transforming local economies, known as community wealth building. This is about growing the local economy in ways that mean more wealth is generated, circulated and retained in communities for the benefit of all.
On Thursday 6th April, members of the Cabinet Committee heard about progress with deploying the approach and approved the strategy for the next phase of activities, which will help embed new practices into the council’s - and other organisations’ - day-to-day work.
The aim is to help tackle long-standing economic challenges and ultimately improve the distribution of wealth.
Cllr Altany Craik, Spokesperson - Finance, Economy & Strategic Planning, said: “This is about reinforcing a new way of thinking about projects, services and investments. We’re considering how the public sector can work much more closely with the private, third and community sectors, to help generate, circulate and keep more wealth in our communities and local areas.
“We’ve made some progress since the largest and most influential organisations around Fife signed up to a charter last April describing our joint commitment to this.
“For example, we’ve increased our direct spending with local businesses and worked on developing local supply chains so that more Fife businesses benefit indirectly from council contracts. And we’ve been testing alternative approaches to recruitment to try and remove the barriers that continually keep some people out of employment.
“Today we’ve agreed a clear set of activities to take this approach further. This is the start of bolder efforts to redesign existing policy and practice, systems and processes, and we’ve asked for progress to be reported back to the Cabinet Committee every six months.”
The policy approach includes increasing local economic, social, and environmental benefits from:
What does it look like in action?
There are lots of different ways for organisations and local people to work together to build community wealth. We’re committed to thinking differently about everything we do and making better links between all the work that goes on around Fife, to try and get more local benefits from every public pound and resource. We are linking this thinking to our delivery of programmes from use of vacant land, climate change projects to recruitment and local supply chains.
Flexible recruitment and training opportunities help people into employment and out of poverty
Over the past year we’ve been working with Fife Gingerbread, a voluntary sector organisation that provides advice and support to lone parents and families in need throughout Fife. We wanted to make the council a realistic and positive option for people in the most need, looking for work.
Our Facilities Management Service often struggles to recruit people as we need so many caterers, cleaners, janitors and maintenance staff to work in all the Kingdom’s villages and towns. So Fife Gingerbread hosted an information session for their clients, at which council officers described different facilities management jobs and vacancies.
The group discussed the barriers and challenges they would face applying for the positions. Following the session, Facilities Management changed frontline job adverts to let applicants know CVs will be accepted and, where possible, they’re flexible with contracted working hours so that posts aren’t restrictive. As a result, nine Fife Gingerbread clients have accepted jobs within the service so far.
To build on this success we’re planning a recruitment and induction programme, with open interviews held on set days for a mixture of our positions. And we’ll be providing six-month funded placements for 16-19 year olds, as part of the Open Doors programme, to give them the confidence, training and skills needed to transition into mainstream employment.
Find out more about community wealth building from CLES, the national organisation for local communities.