CLES is the national organisation for local economies – developing progressive economics for people, planet and place.

We act as a critical friend to local economies, by working with the economic actors in places to bring them together, connect them to progressive agendas, devise solutions and deliver change.

This practice-based research enables us to advocate for change to national debates. We do this by building progressive coalitions, amplifying innovative local economic approaches and stimulating governments of all scales to enable local economies to reach their full potential.

In both policy and practice, our work focusses on six areas:

  • Delivering economies for all
  • Deepening democracy
  • Community wealth building
  • Making public services excellent
  • Creating great, resilient places
  • Tackling environmental crisis

Latest reports

Our places, our planet

This report from UK think tank CLES sets out a road map for creating the conditions for local climate action. We stand on a precipice, one that is simultaneously fraught with danger and alive with possibility. That urgent action is needed on climate change is beyond doubt. Nor is there any question that our places...

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Future freeports

This report from UK think tank CLES looks at the claims on both sides of the debate and explores how freeports could be done differently. Freeports have been contentious since their announcement. Trade unions, public bodies, think tanks and commentators have all voiced concerns that they will accelerate the extraction of wealth from hard-pressed communities...

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A light in the dark

This report from UK think tank CLES looks at progressive frontiers in local economies. Critiques of traditional and mainstream economic approaches are well established. In 2021 CLES published a provocation that advocated for a community wealth building approach to empower local areas and communities to maximise their existing skills, talents and capabilities in the pursuit...

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A roadmap to decarbonisation

This report from UK think tank CLES looks at the retrofit of social housing stock in the South of Scotland. This report explores the potential of registered social landlords (RSLs) taking the lead in delivering a just transition in Scotland. Analysis, conducted by IPPR, finds that, by using their influence to develop the retrofit supply...

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Owning the workplace, securing the future

This report from UK think tank CLES looks at how to support worker buy-outs and expand employee ownership in Wales. This research explores the case for employee ownership as a means to deliver a more inclusive, secure and sustainable economy in Wales. The research finds that, through new legislation – to compel action, provide for...

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Manchester City Council spend analysis 2020/21

This report from UK think tank CLES looks at the role of procurement in local economic development. This analysis was conducted by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) for Manchester City Council as part of an ongoing partnership. The 14-year collaboration between CLES and Manchester City Council has helped to reshape the national debate...

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Toolkit: A just energy transition through community wealth building

This report from UK think tank CLES looks at what a community wealth building approach to energy transition should look like for the UK. We are standing at the brink of an energy revolution which could transform our places. Local government and other public sector organisations have a critical role in ensuring this transition is...

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Community-led development: a roadmap for asset ownership

This report from UK think tank CLES looks at a roadmap towards a more supportive, less fragmented framework for CAT.  Across the UK, land and property development drives the extraction of wealth from local economies. This joint report from CLES and URBED critically analyses the dynamics in local land development markets and explores alternative models...

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Community wealth building: a history

This transcript from UK think tank CLES looks at how community wealth building has advanced in the past decade. Over the course of the last decade, community wealth building has advanced, what was once a marginal sport is now a widely-adopted corrective to a failing economic model. To celebrate this flourishing movement, CLES has produced...

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Our land

This report from UK think tank CLES is the final report of the Liverpool City Region Land Commission. Our land, the final report of the Liverpool City Region Land Commission, reflects the findings of England’s first Commission to review the use of land for community wealth building. The Liverpool City Region Land Commission was launched...

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