Tag Archives: preston model

The Preston Model – a blueprint for local liberalism?

For a while now there’s been a lot of talk in the party about how we need to adopt more radical policies, although this does often seem to lead back to Universal Basic Income.

Another idea I think we should look more closely at is the ‘Preston Model’. I think that we Lib Dems are, for better or worse, often at our best when pulling apart big ideas so I’m interested to see what others think of this approach. If it’s something we already do at local government level then we should be talking about it much more.

The Preston Model refers to a community wealth building approach taken by Preston Council since the early 2010s that has enabled the town to outperform many other ‘left-behind’ areas in similarly dire post-austerity situations. In 2011, a new shopping centre, the planned hub of local regeneration in Preston, was cancelled. At this point Preston Council realised it could not bet its future on outside investment from big corporations or on central government, so it had to find solutions from within.

The council therefore focussed on promoting a policy of localist procurement to its six core ‘anchor institutions’, including the university, police force and housing association. These rooted organisations are encouraged to source goods and services like repairs and cleaning from local suppliers. In 2013, only 5% of £450m annual anchor institution spending was in Preston. By 2017, this £38m had increased to £111m. This required active leadership from the council, looking at how contracts could be broken up to allow smaller suppliers to bid, and supporting suppliers to bid for such contracts – the confidence and expertise in these areas had to be rebuilt after decades of the city relying on big outsourcing firms.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 23 Comments
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