Austerity has impacted massively on local government, decimating frontline services across the country, with councils facing more cuts to funding and worsening financial challenges.
Against this bleak backdrop, local authorities are fighting back and increasingly recognising that mutual and co-operative ways of working can help rebuild communities disheartened and demoralised by years of cuts. Preston City Council led the way, supporting a wide range of co-operative enterprises built around the city’s anchor institutions – including the county constabulary, a public sector housing association, colleges and hospitals.
Council leaders also decided to buy goods and services locally to stop 61% of their procurement budget being spent outside of the Lancashire economy. In the process, the town’s fortunes have been turned around and the results are inspiring other local authorities to go back to their
roots engaging local communities.
Preston is also a key player in the Co-operative Councils Innovations Network (CCIN), which is offering an alternative approach to delivering services, using co-operative values and principles.