WOLVERHAMPTON: Economic drive to boost city’s wealth
Copyright Alaur Rahman
Leading public sector organisations in Wolverhampton have joined forces in a new community wealth building initiative, aimed at keeping more of their £835 million collective spending power within the city.
A select committee meeting next week will see representatives from the City of Wolverhampton College, Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, University of Wolverhampton and Wolverhampton Homes coming together with the council to discuss how to keep maximum funds in the city’s economy.
The ‘Wolverhampton Pound’ scheme is committed to working with and uniting businesses and the voluntary sector, with a view to spending more money within the city in order to retain wealth locally and create new jobs.
Council leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield (Lab. Bushbury South and Low Hill) said: “The Wolverhampton Pound is about keeping more of our city’s money right here so that it benefits local people.
“The city’s public sector has massive spending power and what we are envisaging is prioritising local firms and organisations when it comes to decisions over where to spend it.
“If you take the city council, we employ 4,500 people and own 20 per cent of land in the city. When you combine our spending power with our partners, we are looking at more than £835 million annually and 14,000 employees.
“Together, we can really benefit our local economy and our communities by harnessing the power of the Wolverhampton Pound to deliver projects which benefit our people, rather than lining the pockets of shareholders who have probably never set foot in Wolverhampton,” he added.
The idea, known as community wealth building, has already been successfully adopted in Preston, Lancashire, where council chiefs credit the initiative with creating 1,600 new jobs, £74 million of investment into the city and £200 million into the regional economy.
“This approach really works. Up in Preston millions has been invested into the city directly as a result of institutions choosing to spend money locally,” said Cllr Brookfield.
“They have made it easier for local businesses to bid for contracts and set up local firms to provide local services, created jobs, paid more people the living wage and moved the city out of the 20 most deprived places in the UK.”
The five main partners have been tasked with sharing current and emerging approaches for reducing carbon in the supply chain, with a particular focus on waste, food supply chains, cleaning materials, construction standards and IT equipment to create a shared roadmap to 2028.
Shaun Aldis, Chief Executive of Wolverhampton Homes, added: “I am delighted that Wolverhampton Homes is able to be part of this fantastic initiative. As a major employer within the city, we see it as our duty to give back to the communities we serve.
“With a property portfolio of around 22,000 homes and over 700 staff, we invest millions in projects and programmes every year to maintain and uplift neighbourhoods across Wolverhampton.
“By utilising this spending power closer to home, we hope to not only boost local business and create job opportunities, but also to reduce our carbon footprint as we strive towards a greener city,” he said.
Wolverhapton Council’s select committee will discuss procurement of the ‘Wolverhampton Pound’ scheme at a meeting next Wednesday (November 24).
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
Words: Joe Sweeney, Local Democracy Reporter
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