UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Camden Council and IIPP Policy Studio explore new approaches to funding local missions

23 November 2022

The IIPP Policy Studio and Camden Council are exploring how a local Community Wealth Fund and a mission-led procurement approach could support the delivery of the 'We Make Camden' vision.

Camden Lock Market building with the railway bridge

Over the last two years, IIPP and Camden Council have worked closely with a wide range of local people and organisations to imagine what renewal after COVID could look like for the London Borough of Camden. The Camden Renewal Commission – co-chaired by IIPP Director Mariana Mazzucato and Leader of Camden Council Georgia Gould – included leading figures from the local arts, business, research and charity sectors.

Along with input from residents and other partners, the Commission defined four missions for the Borough that fed into their vision document We Make Camden:

  • By 2030, Camden’s estates and their neighbourhoods are healthy, sustainable and unlock creativity.
  • By 2030, everyone eats well every day with nutritious, affordable, sustainable food
  • By 2030, those holding positions of power in Camden are as diverse as its community – and the next generation are ready to follow.
  • By 2025, every young person has access to economic opportunity that enables them to be safe and secure.

One of the critical barriers that city governments and local authorities face in implementing a mission-oriented approach is funding. In the UK, local authority funding has seen a decade of decline – between 2010 and 2020 Camden’s external funding fell by over 50%. To pursue the ambitious agenda outlined in We Make Camden, IIPP has been working with the Council to explore innovative new approaches to funding – including a Community Wealth Fund and mission-led procurement.

Community wealth funds
As the new report highlights, community wealth funds are a way to direct value creation and redistribution. Camden is a centre for wealth creation, from the world-renowned Camden Market to the long history of creative artists that have grown up or made their name there, as well as the Knowledge Quarter institutions such as the British Library, British Museum, UCL and the Wellcome Trust. However, too often much of this wealth is ‘siphoned off’ to other places, whether by record labels or via real estate values. 
A wealth fund is both about investment in the opportunities that create value, and also about its distribution. Genuine community participation in wealth creation and distribution is a true way to design ‘stakeholder value’ and ensuring that value is distributed to create the maximum public good.  
Community wealth funds could be used in the UK as finance vehicles for local authority's long-term strategic investment platform, and to help a local community withstand financial crises. Community wealth funds have been successfully used in numerous local areas globally to provide services, deliver infrastructure and create equitable public value.
IIPP’s work provides Camden with an outline plan for implementing a community wealth fund in the Borough, addressing questions of mandate, governance, participation, capitalisation and monitoring.

Mission-led procurement
As the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), the Centre for London, the Local Government Association and others argue, a new approach to procurement creates enormous opportunities to shape local markets and address social challenges. Camden’s budget on controllable spending is almost £500 million per year, and by working with other organisations across the Borough it may be possible to bring in further resources. 

This project will explore how procurement could be used to support missions in the context of a UK local authority. Working closely with the London Borough of Camden team, IIPP will explore the role and purpose of procurement within a missions-oriented organisation, and the role of procurement as a lever for change internally and for communities and places. That will mean looking beyond the technical process to understand the whole commissioning and procurement cycle - from the way that the Council identifies the services it needs to provide, to the commissioning, delivery, contract management, and evaluation processes. 

"We are delighted to deepen our partnership with Camden Council to advance their missions, building on the work of the Renewal Commission, which we co-chaired over the last two years. This work can help diversify those in power, create economic opportunities for youth, expand access to affordable, sustainable, nutritious food, and build sustainable neighbourhoods. A new approach to public procurement is needed to achieve these missions. Procurement budgets are significant, and represent an under-utilised opportunity to align public spending with efforts to address the grand societal challenges we face today. This project will enable us to build an in-depth understanding of what mission-led procurement can look like in practice," says Mariana Mazzucato.

The project is delivered by the IIPP Policy Studio, which brings together bespoke multidisciplinary teams to design policies and tools, combining different methodologies, lenses, and approaches. The Studio works in partnership with governments and institutions from across the world to co-design and test new policy frameworks and on-the-ground solutions to translate new economic thinking into practice.

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