National, regional and local governments strive to build a civic society characterised by equality and opportunity. Our economy talks of ‘inclusive growth’ from which opportunity trickles down for all citizens. Yet, despite best intentions, trickle-down economics is failing civic society. Wealth is increasingly appropriated by those already wealthy (the rich get richer), and an ever increasing number of citizens form a new class of citizenry, dispossessed of jobs, of income, of social security, of food, of heat, of health, dignity, and wealth (the poor get poorer).
A solution to the problem exists, locked within the public sector, acting as an influencer and agency for economic change. The public sector can work to build wealth in communities by maximising the power of public finance, by making better use of public land and buildings, by commissioning and procuring for greater public good, by investing in a more plural economy, and through local supply chains, setting the standard as a leading business employer in NI.
The critical partner to building wealth is to be found within our communities. It is our community development trusts, our cooperatives, our associations, and our social enterprises that are already hard at work building opportunity and wealth. The range and scope of their contribution lies untapped, and more needs to be done to unlock the contribution of the community, voluntary & social enterprise sector to deliver a Community Wealth Building (CWB) agenda in NI.
This mini conference sets out the background to CWB in NI. It presents an analysis of the problem and talks to solutions. It presents the findings of primary research led by DTNI in partnership with Trademark and Queens, Communities and Place. It will reflect on the work of the Ministerial Advisory Panel for Community Wealth Building, consider the wider role and responsibility of regional and local government, and engage delegates to discuss the question: what are the next steps for Community Wealth Building in NI?
The event will feature three breakout sessions:
- Assets & Community Wealth Building (facilitated by DTNI and QUB Communities & Place)
- Commissioning & Procurement (facilitated by Colin Jess & David Hunter, Social Enterprise NI)
- Fair Employment & Just Labour (facilitated by Sean Byers, Trademark & Sarah McKinley, the Democracy Collaborative)