Transforming Local Economies Through Community Wealth Building

Ariel view of rural coommunity
Susan Thomson

Views are being sought on ground-breaking proposals to help grow local economies and ensure more money stays in the hands of communities.

The Scottish Government is consulting the public on plans for new Community Wealth Building legislation - the first of its kind in the world - as part of its wider strategy to transform Scotland’s economy.

The consultation launched today will run for 12 weeks and seeks community, business and wider feedback on proposals to:

  • place a legal duty on public bodies such as health authorities and local councils to use the economic levers they have – for example in sourcing goods and services – to support the transformation of local and regional economies
  • promote co-operative, social enterprise and employee-owned businesses to ensure that more wealth which is generated locally stays local
  • create fair work opportunities for local people and those who face barriers to employment
  • ensure land and property are used for the benefit of local communities, business and the environment

Community Wealth Minister Tom Arthur launched the consultation at the Red Lion Inn in Culross, Fife, a community-owned pub and key local employer which aims to reinvest its profits back into the community.

Mr Arthur said:

“We want to create an economy which delivers prosperity for all of Scotland’s people and places. Community Wealth Building is about enabling people to have a stake in the wealth that their local economy generates. This is central to our plans to reform Scotland’s economy for the wellbeing of current and future generations.

“While Community Wealth Building has grown in popularity in recent years, legislation has the potential to achieve more rapid benefits for communities, helping both people to earn incomes from fair work and more locally-owned businesses to bid for public sector contracts. Money spent locally is more likely to stay in the local economy and support local jobs.

“This public consultation will inform a Community Wealth Building Bill, which we will introduce to Parliament, to achieve these aims. I look forward to hearing a wide range of views on how we can use this process to transform our local economies to become greener, fairer and more prosperous.” 

Fife is one of five pilot areas supported to develop Community Wealth Building action plans.

Fife Council Leader Cllr David Ross said:

“We are committed to creating a fairer Fife where we grow the local economy and everyone benefits from the wealth generated within our communities. That’s what community wealth building is about.  In Fife, in conjunction with local partners, we are already forging ahead with ground-breaking changes to embed community wealth building so that local people, communities and businesses benefit now and into the future.   

“The pilot programme in Fife has seen us implementing progressive procurement practices that are helping local businesses to bid for public sector contracts, making sure more local people receive the living wage and rolling out innovative training and recruitment programmes to ensure people have access to quality local jobs. Our key partners are all signed up to a charter to deliver change.

“Whilst we have seen this significant progress locally, reform of legislation would provide powers for greater change, and we welcome the opportunity to help shape a future Community Wealth Building Bill.” 


Anyone who wishes to have their say on Community Wealth Building legislation can do so here:

Community Wealth Building legislation, which will be introduced within this five-year term of the Scottish Parliament, will contribute to the National Strategy for Economic Transformation, which aims to create an economy focused on supporting wellbeing for all.

The consultation paper invites wider proposals on legislative and other action required to accelerate the implementation of Community Wealth Building in Scotland through practice and policy.

The five pillars or elements of Community Wealth Building are:

Spending: Maximising community benefits through procurement and commissioning, developing good enterprises, fair work and shorter supply chains

Workforce: Increasing fair work and developing local labour markets that support prosperity and wellbeing

Land and Property: Growing social, ecological, financial and economic value from land and property assets

Inclusive Ownership: Developing more local and inclusive enterprises which generate community wealth, including social enterprises, employee owned businesses and co-operatives

Finance: Ensuring flows of investment and financial institutions work for local people, communities and businesses

The Red Lion Inn in Culross underwent a community buy out in 2021, enabled by The Scottish Land Fund. The organisation has also been supported by the Plunkett Foundation and partners Community Shares Scotland and Co-operative Development Scotland to transition from planning and fundraising to trading. This preserves the last pub in the village, acting as a community hub and creating local employment opportunities. Over the last two years the Scottish Rural Network have funded the Plunkett Foundation to build a community pub network in Scotland that will support communities developing a community pub of their own.

The Minister also participated in a round table with Councillors and senior officers from Fife Council, one of the five CWB pilot areas supported by the Scottish Government.