The paper has been released as political parties campaign for the UK general election in December and is intended to be a set of recommendations for the prospective government.
CLES argues that the UK’s national and local economies are weak: austerity, falling wages, inequality and an economic system that is dependent on growth and self-derived profits all mean that investment is held back from manufactured goods and services, and prosperity is diverted from the majority. The solution is a 16-point plan spread across four main themes, summarised below:
Trickle-down economics is not working, therefore wealth must be distributed from the haves to the have-nots in different ways. To help do this, support from central government is required in the form of a community wealth-building unit. A Community Wealth Building Act should be passed to facilitate this.
The meaningful devolution of power and a national constitutional convention to discuss local government reform and a federal UK.
CLES calls for an end to austerity which has decimated public services. A Public Values Act should be passed to replace a weak Social Value Act, which serves as little more than a box-ticking exercise. There is a need to ‘power up’ the NHS, retake control and invest in public transport, build homes for all that need them, and establish an inclusive, non-discriminatory welfare state.
The establishment of a Local Green New Deal. Replace GDP with measures of wellbeing, sustainability and carbon reduction.
CLES Chief Executive Neil McInroy says: “This is a defining election for people and the planet. It’s bigger than 1997. It’s even bigger than 1945. In our local economies, too many people, places and communities are being left behind. For CLES, this demands a new social contract with action across four key themes. The new government must address them in order to achieve social, economic and environmental justice for all people and places.”
DTNI has collaborated with CLES on our own Charter for Change, Time to Build an Inclusive Local Economy, a document that expounds on four pillars for action: advancing community power; building local community wealth; commissioning and procuring for social value; and developing finance to help social economies. These principles dovetail with those in the CLES manifesto and we continue to endeavour to put these on the agenda of members of the NI Assembly. It will be interesting to see how their Manifesto for Local Economies resonates with political parties hungry for votes in GB.