Grants / Projects we are funding

Centre for London – Community wealth and asset approaches for London

Grant details

Amount:£55, 797

Awarded on:26/08/2021

Duration:15 months


Area of interest

Local economic resilience

Themes covered

Ownership and control

How can the assets and spending power of local authorities and their partners be used to improve economic and social outcomes for their residents in our big cities and how can residents can shape this process? London local authorities are interested in the “Preston model” for procurement and spending but it’s not easy to apply this in a large urban context with complicated governance, and where people often live, work and socialise in different local authority areas.

What is the issue?

Over the last decade, policymakers have become increasingly interested in community wealth and asset approaches – which involve using their property, procurement, and pensions – to bring about social value. For example, this could involve a local authority using public procurement to create local jobs, or changing how it manages its pension fund or its property assets to achieve a wider goal, such as becoming more environmentally sustainable. Local authorities in London control a lot of assets – they have a combined spending power of over £6 billion and hold billions of pounds in pension funds. There are practical and statutory constraints on how they can use these assets, but they still have considerable scope to make changes to improve outcomes for their residents.

These approaches are becoming increasingly prominent among local authorities and their partners in London and elsewhere. In London, where this project will focus, there are challenges for local authorities seeking to use them as effectively as possible. These include the complex governance and geography of the city: people often work and live in different boroughs and the boundaries of public sector bodies often overlap. There are also difficulties in measuring and valuing social good consistently across different interventions and areas. Importantly, there are also questions about how local communities should be involved in deciding how community assets are used.

What will this project try to achieve?

Centre for London will publish a written report, including recommendations for central government, local authorities, and other stakeholders. The report will be launched at a public event.

Through this work, Centre for London aims to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Local authorities who already use community assets or community wealth approaches will be able to refine them and increase the benefit they deliver
  • Local authorities who do not already use community assets or community wealth approaches will be more able to set one up
  • The GLA, NHS London, the University of London and other potential anchor partners will be more able to enter into partnerships with local authorities to put these approaches into place
  • The GLA and other pan-London institutions will be more able to design and coordinate a longer-term London wide approach to supporting community wealth and assets approaches

Who might be interested in this project? 

Anyone who is interested in how local authorities use their assets to bring about social value, how local authorities can effectively engage with local residents, and how local authorities and partner organisations can work together effectively in London.