Community Wealth Building in Moray  

This blog from our northern-most Community Worker, Fi, discusses what Community Wealth Building (CWB) could mean for people in Moray.

The Community Wealth Building conversation

In early December the Moray Council’s Community Wealth Building Team and CLES held a series of meetings in Elgin. They held events to present the plan to the third, private and public sectors. I attended the one for the third sector and social enterprises with Start McDonald and David Burch from the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES). I caught up with Stuart again, and again, he did a very good job of explaining the strategy.

There were attendees from many of Moray’s diverse civil society. It was interesting to reflect on what we understood about CWB, and advantages and disadvantages of using it in Moray.

Find out more about the 5 principles behind Community Wealth Building from CLES’s blog ‘How to Build Community Wealth’ or watch their short video.

Moray’s strengths and challenges for Community Wealth

Community Wealth Building in Moray is part of the Moray Growth Deal  (2021). This is the shared vision for growth in Moray:

A place that is thriving because of an increasingly diverse economy and a growing population that celebrates success, and values both education and training. A distinctive and ambitious place that generates opportunities for everyone which in turn helps to drive up average earnings, retain balanced demographics, and encourage strong communities to flourish. 

We have kind permission from CLES to share these slides about the local case for Community Wealth Building.

Table of Key Challenges (long text with statistics). Challenge 1 is Low-wage economy and a lack of economic diversity. There’s a 10.4% underemployment rate. 21.5% of people are not earning the living wage (compared to 9% in Scotland). A higher proportion of work is part time. Challenge 2 is economic inequality and lack of opportunity. The gender pay gap is 17.8% (compared to 10.9% in Scotland). There’s a 23% child poverty rate (compared to 24% in Scotland). There’s a relatively low business birth rate. Challenge 3 is demographic. 35% of employment is in higher band occupations than the Scottish average. The working age population is estimated to fall by 3% by 2039. There’s outward migration of young people from the area. Challenge 4 is climate – and being the highest emitter of carbon in Scotland. 57.4% of social housing stock is energy efficient. 32% of households live in fuel poverty, higher than the Scottish average of 24%. 67% of council buildings are in satisfactory condition – the worst rate in Scotland.

Key strengths. Moray Business Gateway reported a higher number of start-up cases than in previous years (over 120 compared to 60) across a range of sectors. Moray has a high level of manufacturing employment (18% of jobs in the area compared to 8% in Scotland). Manufacture of food products and beverages alone account for 10% of jobs in Moray. Morays 150 social enterprises represents a higher share of Scotland’s total (2.5%) than Moray’s share of the population (1.8%). That is an increase of 20% since 2015, with Findhorn highlighted as a national social enterprise hotspot given its expertise in relation to Net Zero. The unemployment rate is 3%  

Involving everyone

Moray has thriving charities and social enterprises, and they were interested in how this strategy would support them. The lack of transport and the outward migration of young people were seen as big issues.

We talked about the complexity of trying to get commissioned to provide goods and services for the anchor organisations. To work well, it must be made transparent and do-able for smaller organisations. Culture is important and needs to be supported – small businesses and social enterprises are crucial to keeping wealth in Moray. There is a low wage economy which needs changed so more people want to stay.  

Moray will be one of the first places to use Community Wealth Building as part of its whole strategy. It follows in the steps of North Ayrshire Council, the first Community Wealth Building council in Scotland. The 2018-2028 Moray Economic Strategy aims for ‘future prosperity and inclusive growth’.

The next slide shows how local priorities fit together.

Supportive policy and strategy in Moray - long text. 1 Moray Growth Deal. Investment of over £100 million in eight strategic projects. The strategic outcomes are: To retain and attract young people to live and work in Moray. To address gender inequality in employment. Diversification of the Moray economy. To secure the future prosperity of Moray’s many communities. 2 Moray CPP Local Outcomes Improvement Plan (LOIP). The priorities are: Building a better future for our children and young people in Moray. Empowering and connecting communities. Growing a diverse and sustainable economy. 3 Moray Economic Strategy. Priority areas for action are: Moray Growth Deal projects. A sufficient labour market. Alignment between skills provision and the changing economy. Integrating community wealth building and the approach to Net Zero. Supporting growth in productivity.

What’s next

Next the CWB department in the Council will share a report from the three meetings. The plans are in place, and now it’ll take collaboration to transform them into action. We are also looking forward to the Scottish Government’s Community Wealth Building Bill, and growing interest in how CWB can support communities across Scotland.

It’s an exciting time for making local economies work to benefit everyone. We’ll share updates as the trailblazing work in Moray develops!

If you’re in the Moray area, share your ideas with Fi and the Coastal Connections project team.