TD Brian Stanley has launched Sinn Féin’s proposals for ‘Community Wealth Building’ in Laois and Offaly.
According to Mr Stanley, this is a ‘powerful model’ aimed at assisting ‘rural economic development’.
Community Wealth Building works by using existing local and regional resources along with spending by national and local government public bodies to strengthen the local economy and regions.
There are five key pillars to Sinn Fein’s Community Wealth Building proposal:
Make financial power work for people and local towns by retaining as much of that wealth as we can through local supply chains and targeted procurement contracts.
Work with key institutions (commercial, public and semi-state) to create local employment and set a standard for high quality, sustainable jobs.
Utilise all land and assets in our communities to generate wealth and resources for the people who live there.
Develop an inclusive economy with social forms of ownership like co-operatives.
Reduce our carbon footprint by establishing shorter supply chains and greater local employment.
Mr Stanley said: “We need to be bold in setting out a new approach to the economy where we have balanced economic development and wealth is retained in our towns and counties rather than being extracted.
“We need to retain as much wealth as we can through local supply chains and targeted public procurement contracts for local businesses.
“Key local bodies, like Bord na Móna and Laois and Offaly County Councils, are central to the model, they have the resources and facilities to create local employment and set a standard for high quality, sustainable jobs.
“Over 20,000 commuters leave Laois and Offaly for work each day, 8,692 from Offaly and 11,477 from Laois.
“By working with local business, providing procurement contracts, and encouraging key institutions to do likewise, we can create more quality jobs locally and improve people’s quality of life.
“Our proposal is about developing local assets and using the public bodies in such a way that wealth is added to our communities, not extracted.
“We believe that CWB has the potential to maximise the potential of Laois and Offaly.”
According to the Laois deputy, this approach has been taken in my regions outside of Ireland and yielded positive results.
He said:”We have examined this and I firmly believe that it can be utilised here in the Midlands to boost employment.
WCWB seeks to use existing local and regional resources along with the spend by national and local Government public bodies to strengthen the local economy and regions.
“The model of CWB has proved to be very successful in locations such as Preston in England, North Ayrshire in Scotland and Cleveland in the United States. These proposals are practical and workable.
“Preston has shown that breaking down procurement contracts for SME’s in your locality can create a circular economy where wealth can be retained, and life can be brought back to local towns.
“The reality is that the current economic model in Ireland isn’t meeting the needs of many workers, families and communities across the Midlands.
“CSO data shows the region to be one of the most deprived in Ireland with 1 in 5 unable to afford basic living requirements.
“20% of people live in deprivation and disposable income per person is 15% lower in the Midlands compared to the national average.’’