Last week Government launched its consultation ‘Building our Industrial Strategy’ which aims to improve living standards and economic growth by increasing productivity and driving growth across the whole country.
This aligns with the Heart of the South West’s joint LEP and local authority-led Devolution Partnership’s Productivity Plan which launched this week, aiming to ensure that the Heart of the South West makes a significant contribution to the UK’s productivity growth. This will see productivity improved locally to deliver real economic benefits for the residents and business community.
The final Productivity Plan will be launched in the autumn and there will be further opportunities for feedback before then. This first phase is to ask whether the partnership is considering the right challenges and the responses will help to shape the draft plan. At this stage the partnership is not setting out proposals; these will be done at the next phase from spring.
During this period the Devolution partnership will also be gathering and publishing additional evidence to build a comprehensive picture.
Several themes of the national Industrial Strategy are directly relevant to the strengths and opportunities in the Heart of the South West, for example,
- helping young people to develop the skills they need to do the high-paid, high-skilled jobs of the future, central to the national industrial strategy and to our local aim to deliver rewarding careers,
- investing in science, research and innovation and highlighting the nuclear industry for a sector deal.
The recent South West England and South East Wales Science and Innovation Audit shows there are other sectors within Heart of the South West where a sector deal could be an opportunity for investment and new jobs.
The Heart of the South West has successfully grown employment in the years since the financial crisis and in some places now outperforms the strongest economies in Europe for the level of jobs. However the LEP area ranks towards the lower end the LEP areas in England for the level of productivity, and productivity varies considerably within the LEP area.
Lower productivity means that on average it takes longer to produce the same goods or services than those economies with a higher level of productivity; and this translates to lower wages and longer hours worked.
The Productivity Plan will set out how we intend to address this challenge and will be our contribution to the UK’s Industrial Strategy. It will form the basis of negotiations with Government for investment and devolved powers and will act as a focal point to consolidate local resources.
Heart of the South West Devolution lead and Leader of Somerset County Council, John Osman, said: “This is an opportunity to put this region at heart of the Government’s economic strategy. With the right investment and strategic lead from the Devolution Partnership, we believe it has the potential to become an internationally important business location.
“This is the first stage of an important process in which public and private sector partners are working together to shape the economic prosperity of our area.”
Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, Steve Hindley said: “The Heart of the South West LEP is working closely with our Local Authority-led Devolution partners to create a Productivity Plan that aligns with government strategy to leverage the maximum investment of resources and confidence in this area.
“We want to build a meaningful picture of what our business community wants to see from a Productivity Plan for this area, putting in place the measures that will deliver growth and prosperity for businesses and residents.”
The first stage of the consultation is published at www.torbay.gov.uk/devolution and responses are invited by 10 March 2017.
The Heart of the South West LEP area Productivity Plan will:
- Set out our long term strategic ambition to raise productivity and set out a clear plan for achieving this ambition;
- Support the delivery of the devolution agenda for our area;
- Establish a clear Heart of the South West part of the proposed Government Industrial Strategy; and
- Replace the current Local Enterprise Partnership’ Strategic Economic Plan.