Heart of the South West Devolution - Newsletter 16

Leaders for the Heart of the South West

                                   November 2018

The Heart of the South West (HotSW) Joint Committee held its third meeting on 5 October 2018. This briefing provides an outline of the issues discussed at the meeting and the ongoing work of the Partnership.

Influencing Government

Influencing the Government remains central to the Joint Committee’s work and we are achieving successes. The success in having the HotSW included in wave two of the development of Local Industrial Strategies is testimony to the compelling partnership vision put to Government jointly by the Joint Committee and the Local Enterprise Partnership. Our ability to be flexible and respond to Government policy changes is allowing the Partnership to engage in targeted discussions with Government in key policy areas that impact on productivity and we are confident that further success will follow.

Stepping up to the challenge strategy front cover

Heart of the South West Productivity Strategy and Delivery Plan

Through the HotSW Productivity Strategy we have the ambition of “Doubling the size of the Heart of the South West’s economy over 20 years” with a vision of “Productivity and prosperity for all”. 

The purpose of the Delivery Plan endorsed at our recent meeting is to deliver the aspirations in the Strategy. As a live action plan it will allow us to track our performance.

The Plan is wide in scope and details current and planned activity. It is broadly divided into:

  • a ‘core offer’ – of programmes to deliver business support and employment and skills
  • ‘enablers’ – including housing delivery, transport, and other infrastructure essential to support economic growth.
  • programmes of activity (our ‘opportunities’) specific to the HotSW area. 

It will be produced in stages as programmes of activity for each theme are progressed.
The current version features the opportunities that are at the most advanced stage:

  • Digital (photonics)
  • Advanced Engineering (marine and nuclear)
  • High Value Tourism
  • Farming, Fishing and Food. 

By spring 2019 it will be expanded to include:

  • Healthy Ageing
  • Digital (Creative and Big Data)
  • Advanced Engineering (aerospace)
  • Construction
  • Defence. 

View the current version of the Delivery Plan.

Opportunities Prospectus

Using extracts from the Delivery Plan, our Opportunities Prospectus targets local MPs, Ministers and senior Government officials and where we need help from Government (our ‘asks’) and what HotSW can offer towards delivering national priorities.

A second iteration in the spring will cover the remaining ‘Opportunities’. The aim is to influence Government policy through the 2019 Spending Review and the anticipated launch of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Industrial Strategy

Local Industrial Strategy (LIS)

Local Industrial Strategies are part of the Government’s approach in the Industrial Strategy published in November 2017. Every LEP area will need to produce one by 2020. They are strongly evidence- based long term strategies that focus on raising productivity.

As the Joint Committee and LEP recently adopted a Productivity Strategy based on refreshed evidence the Partnership is in a strong position to further refine this with Government into a LIS. The selection of the HotSW area in wave two of developing Local Industrial Strategies represents a shift in approach by the Government. The first wave ’trailblazers’ were the urban conurbations of Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford.

The HotSW area presents some very different challenges and the Government has recognised this. The LIS will enable us to agree with Government our long-term transformational opportunities necessary to deliver our ambitions as well as influence wider Government policy and delivery.

It is intended to have the HotSW LIS agreed with the Government by June 2019.

Housing Summit

The Joint Committee’s housing delivery priority is moving forward following a successful Housing Summit in September. As a result, Homes England made two primary offers for the South West around investment and land acquisition/disposal. The Partnership is now able to develop a bespoke package of asks and offers to Government. A new Housing Sector Task Force of strategic leaders across Devon and Somerset will take this work forward.

National Infrastructure Commission (NIC)

The Joint Committee is keen to secure a growth corridor study for the HotSW area and, after helpful discussions with the National Infrastructure Commission, a business case has been sent to the Chancellor who will ultimately decide whether to fund a study.

A study would give the Partnership a better understanding where investment in strategic infrastructure could unlock faster growth over the long term in support of improving productivity. The initial focus for the study would be along the A38/M5 transport spine, recognising that investment would have benefits for the whole of the HotSW area and wider south west.


Transport for the SW Peninsula

Excellent transport links to and from the SW peninsula are key to enabling improvements to productivity.

The imminent establishment of a South West Peninsula Shadow Sub-National Transport Body (covering Somerset, Devon, Cornwall, Plymouth and Torbay) is a vital component in our work with Government to deliver investment in our major transport infrastructure.

The hope is for this informal partnership to progress towards becoming a statutory Sub-National Transport Body for the Peninsula which, alongside a separate body being established for the east of the region, will provide a platform for strategic discussions with Government on transport priorities for the region over the long-term.

Brexit Risks and Opportunities Group

The Joint Committee has consistently lobbied Government for powers moving back from the EU under Brexit to be passed to localities.

The Brexit Risks and Opportunities Group advises the Joint Committee on the opportunities and risks of Brexit to the HotSW. The Group has been collating evidence on some of the key risks and opportunities for our unique economy and has conducted research in the following areas: workforce, construction industry, agriculture and land management; food and farming, fisheries and post Brexit funding to support the economy.

The Group is also assessing the impact of Brexit on local government such as service delivery and community resilience. Outcomes from the Group’s work have fed directly into Local Government Association briefing papers and to key Government departments to raise the profile of the area.

With the Brexit departure date looming and several ‘deal’ scenarios still possible, this work is ever more important. A Brexit Joint Regional Sounding Board event, being held as part of the 12 November LEP Conference, will be an opportunity for business and public sector to engage with Government representatives from Defra, BEIS, and MHCLG on preparedness.

The Group is also working with Cornwall on issues of mutual interest and concern.

What’s happening next?

The LEP’s Annual General Meeting Conference is on Monday 12 November.
Council Portfolio Holders and Directors have been invited to an event on Friday 23 November to hear about progress so far and to contribute to the development of the Local Industrial Strategy.

The next meeting of the Joint Committee is on Friday 30 November where the major agenda item will involve discussing the evidence feeding into the Local Industrial Strategy.

Over the coming months, in addition to completing the Delivery Plan, the Joint Committee will be setting out a proposition to work with Government on Housing and developing a shared investment approach to deliver the Productivity Strategy.