Anchor Organisations: Influencing for Change
Image from the publication, Public Finance for the Future We Want
A central part of any Community Wealth Building programme is the role played by local anchor organisations – long established locally-rooted institutions like councils, universities and hospitals that have the power, resources, and policy influence to either enable or inhibit positive changes to the economic, social and environmental fortunes of a place.
Large anchor organisations can support the movement in a number of ways. They can encourage the use of local suppliers in procurement, employ local people on fair wages, make decisions on land and assets that factor socially valuable ends alongside commercial considerations, invest in locally purposeful organisations, and provide space and support to incubate new initiatives.
Anchor Institutions in Oxford
The Owned by Oxford Partnership includes one such anchor in Oxford City Council.
The council led the development of the new Oxford Economic Strategy which identifies community wealth building as a key approach for addressing inequality in the city. The strategy also emphasises progressive procurement through local organisations, and furthering the potential for meanwhile and community uses of assets over the medium term.
The council will continue to support this agenda and has identified a portion of the local allocation of the UK government’s Shared Prosperity Fund to further these aims.
Reaching Other Anchor Institutions
The partnership is seeking to influence other large local anchors to adopt community wealth building approaches to local economies through its position on the Oxfordshire Inclusive Economy Partnership, the Future Oxfordshire Partnership, and the Oxford Economic Growth Steering Board.
Oxfordshire Inclusive Economy in Action Event – May 2022, Ashmolean Museum
Changing Operational Practice
Setting high level ambitions is not always enough and it can be challenging to change embedded practices within large institutions even where the ambition exists. Despite the high level strategic commitments, it is sometimes necessary to drill down and resolve tensions and conflicting priorities with the day to day practices of the people tasked with delivering these ambitions. By having operational resources on the inside, the Owned by Oxford partnership is well placed to work constructively through these implementation hurdles.
Following the release of the council’s Procurement Strategy, which seeks to maximise the delivery of social value in the city, we’re helping to develop a procurement toolkit for the council’s Eocnomic Develompent and Regeneration Service that will steer purchasing managers to make the best decisions on procuring for social impact and maximising opportunities for local purposeful organisations.
We’re also helping to inform a new markets policy for the council, ensuring that the needs of community market operators are well understood and supported in ways which extend the values of the partnership.
We’ll be running a series of roundtables in the coming months to explore particular area of community wealth building with local activists and policy makers from across the network. This will include discussions on Community-led regeneration, Care Commissioning, and Community Markets. Sessions will work through these challenges of implementing these ambitions and make concrete recommendations to local policymakers.
How are we influencing wider change?
There’s great work underway across the country and Owned by Oxford is part of a number of national networks that are exploring best practice and pushing this progressive agenda.
The Owned by Oxford Team led an event recently at the Stir to Action Festival of the New Economy which explored the challenges and opportunities inherent in the ‘bottom up meets top down’ approach.
Through the City Council’s membership of the Cooperative Councils Innovation Network the community mapping undertaken in the project has been highlighted in online workshops, written case studies, and features in a policy lab report which will be presented at the forthcoming CCIN Annual Conference in November.
Following the success of the Oxford Policy Lab, CCIN are funding the Oxford team to produce a further policy prototype to look at how the distinct values of cooperatives and shared ownership could be better reflected and recognised in procurement frameworks.
The CLES Communities of Local Practice meets regularly as a group of Community Wealth Building professionals from the public sector. We’re active in the group and are sharing and learning from best practice examples from across the country.
Local Anchors – find out more…
If you work for a local anchor organisation and are interested in exploring community wealth building further or want to become part of the partnership, please get in touch with us at email@example.com