Cabinet councillors are recommended to approve the Wolverhampton Pound initiative when they meet next Wednesday (20 January).
It would see City of Wolverhampton Council, City of Wolverhampton College, Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, University of Wolverhampton and Wolverhampton Homes commit to spending more money within the city and working with businesses, communities and the voluntary sector to retain local wealth, create new jobs and opportunities for residents.
The approach, known as community wealth building, has 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.
If the Wolverhampton Pound scheme is approved next week, the 5 anchor partners will agree to focus on 5 core objectives:
- retaining and growing local wealth by prioritising local spending through procurement and commissioning approaches to strengthen and support local supply chains, encouraging the growth of new sectors and creating new local jobs
- embedding social value in the city – leveraging maximum value from investments through social value to strengthen local supply chains, supporting local small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and building skills for the future
- leading the green transition – The city is at the forefront of the green transition with the development of the National Brownfield Institute and the National Centre for Sustainable Construction and the circular economy. There are growing green energy, retrofit and green construction clusters in Wolverhampton with more than 2,000 SMEs engaged in these industries
- supporting and growing the health and wellbeing economy – health and residential care provide 15,000 jobs locally. There is a need to develop a robust skills pipeline for the city’s health and wellbeing sectors, strengthen health and care business models and grow local SMEs
- growing and promoting Wolverhampton as a cultural and creative city – Generating a vibrant city which is built on the city’s cultural strengths, the partners will explore the use of cultural and creative improvement districts to support the growth of the arts, cultural and creative industries
Council leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield 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% 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.
“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. 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.
“If Cabinet endorse this proposal next week, we can use the Wolverhampton Pound as a way to help us relight our city as we recover from the impact of the pandemic.”
If the proposal is agreed next week, the partners will commit to delivering a 12 month action plan.
Read more about the Wolverhampton Pound proposal in the Cabinet report in the Downloads section.