THE Scottish Government’s Programme for Government (PfG) for 2020/21, announced by Nicola Sturgeon last week, is dominated as you might expect by action and investment to help the Scottish economy and Scotland’s communities recover from the impact of the Covid pandemic.

From growing high quality jobs and skills to investing in low carbon transport; from tackling poverty and health inequalities to closing the digital divide: so many of the priorities outlined by the First Minister align closely with the ‘asks’ we’ve been making of government through our Glasgow Economic Recovery Group, which I chair.

The influence of the GERG’s work is clearly visible throughout the Programme for Government – and that’s good news for Glasgow.

Two particular pledges stood out. One was a £25 million investment in Mission Clyde, a joint plan by Glasgow City and Scottish Governments to make the river the engine of our green and inclusive economic and social recovery.

Glaswegians have, rightly, been complaining for years about how unappreciated, unconnected and underdeveloped big parts of our riverbanks are – and communities along the Clyde also suffer disproportionately from deprivation and, now, the impact of Covid 19.

The funding announced in the PfG (which comes in addition to £10m announced just a few weeks ago) will support pioneering heat networks on the river, which will reduce local fuel bills as well as carbon emissions.

Mission Clyde is an example of true partnership working at city, metropolitan and national level stemming from a shared ambition to deliver jobs, investment and infrastructure for the people and places along the river that made the city of Glasgow, but which has been neglected for far too long.

The second commitment was to work with us in Glasgow and our neighbouring councils to develop a Community Wealth-Building pilot for the Glasgow City Region.

This was another key proposal of the city’s Economic Recovery Group and would, I believe, help us make real progress in our ambitions to transform the greater Glasgow economy to one that is fairer, more sustainable and much more inclusive of the communities who have too often not seen the benefits of economic growth.

Community wealth-building is an idea that’s been around for a long time but has become a bit of a buzzword in more recent years, with a number of Scottish councils adopting it as a core approach for their local areas.

There are various definitions but at its heart it’s about using combined local spending, buying, making and investing power with the aim of retaining wealth in the local economy, and using local enterprise, labour, talent and finance to own, build and produce the things that we need.

Glasgow City Council has been pioneering a range of community-wealth building activities since the SNP formed the city administration in 2017.

To mention just a few examples, there’s our Social Enterprise Action Plan, supporting businesses whose profit is used to deliver social and environmental change; our Fair Work City programme, which targets inward investment and business support towards companies that pay the Living Wage, provide security of contract and support employees to develop in their careers; our Sustainable Procurement Strategy, which aims to use our considerable spending power as an organisation that buys a huge amount of goods and services to create community benefits and support local jobs and businesses; and Circular Glasgow, a partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and Zero Waste Scotland to promote a local economy that designs out waste and pollution and keeps products and materials in use – look out for a major city-wide Circular Economy Action Plan coming very soon.

These and many other initiatives all support our ambitions to organise Glasgow’s local economy in a fairer, more sustainable and healthier way. But we want to go further.

By scaling up our community-wealth building plans to a regional level, we can really harness the power of Glasgow’s assets as a truly global, metropolitan city to connect with efforts to eradicate poverty and create better life chances in our communities.

As I’ve already noted, Glasgow City Council spends huge amounts of money on goods and services - where and to whom that money goes can make a real difference to people and places. Combine that with our neighbouring local authorities, the difference is even bigger.

Add in our other public service providers – the NHS and the police for example – and the impact grows again. But if we were also to secure a commitment from our major city and metropolitan institutions – say, our universities and colleges, Glasgow Airport, the Scotrail Alliance, the many big international corporate employers we host across the city region – to ensure even some of their spending is directed towards making things and creating jobs and enterprises in our local communities?

And with the third sector helping to organise and empower people at local level to respond to the opportunities that would create? Well, then we have the potential for something truly transformative: a partnership of power between communities, public bodies and private companies to change neighbourhoods and life chances for the better and for good.

There aren’t any magic bullets to deal with the complex challenges of poverty and inequality, not in Glasgow or anywhere else. But by combining the resilience and imagination of our communities with the strength and influence of our standing as a global metropolis, we can deliver more of the right kind of change for the city.

The global pandemic has created unprecedented economic and social challenges which we’re only now starting to see emerge. The ambition and vision within Mission Clyde and the Community Wealth Building pilot will put our city and its communities right at the heart of Scotland’s recovery.