Inclusive economies: Preston City Council's approach to community wealth building

"The most recent analysis shows that an extra £74 million spend has been retained in Preston and £200 million extra in Lancashire."

Preston’s approach to community wealth building has been widely lauded. Preston began to use social value in procurement after analysis showed that local institutions were only spending 5 per cent of their procurement expenditure in Lancashire and just 40 per cent in Lancashire.

Preston City Council changed their own practices, but as a district council had a relatively limited total spend. So, the council brought together large stakeholders including the Lancashire County Council, Preston College, the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Lancashire Constabulary and local education providers.

The council worked to increase the proportion local spending by these different organisations, and despite an overall decrease in procurement, locally-retained expenditure increased dramatically (Johns, Raikes and Hunter 2019). The most recent analysis shows that an extra £74 million spend has been retained in Preston and £200 million extra in Lancashire (CLES 2019b). It also promoted the real living wage through procurement decisions, to raise the living standards of local people. Between 2012/13 and 2018 there was an increase in 4,000 employees in Preston earning the Real Living Wage (ibid). Preston works to promote the work it has done, so that other councils can easily learn from their experience, including a dedicated webpage explaining its approach including how it complied with relative procurement regulations (see Preston City Council n.d.). Preston has also been working with the European Union’s URBACT network to explore progressive procurement and share good practice across Europe.

Preston worked to understand how it could build a more inclusive economy through its procurement practices and retaining expenditure locally. As a district council, Preston recognised it had limited resources, but could work with anchor institutions in order to maximise its impact. By bringing others on board, aligning interests, and agreeing on improving procurement practices, Preston City Council increased the impact of its living wage policies in the local economy. Preston is also actively working to ensure that other councils can learn from its work and promoting its work locally to encourage local organisations to become involved.