Heart of the South West Devolution - Newsletter 19

Leaders for the Heart of the South West

August 2019

The Heart of the South Joint Committee met on 12 July 2019. Following the recent council elections there were many new councillors present representing their councils, and the politics of the Committee is now very different.

We remain determined to continue to be the ‘voice’ of the HotSW and deliver the HotSW Productivity Strategy. The main items of business dealt with and summarised in this newsletter were:

  • HotSW Draft Local Industrial Strategy
  • HotSW Coastal Productivity Plan
  • HotSW Housing Task Force
  • Submission to the Treasury Inquiry – Regional Imbalances in the UK Economy

HotSW Draft Local Industrial Strategy

We have agreed the next stage in the development of the HotSW Local Industrial Strategy building on the opportunity given to us by the Government to be in the Wave 2 areas developing Local industrial Strategies.

Our endorsement of the current direction of travel will lead to a draft Strategy being shared, co-developed and agreed with Government in the coming months. This tight timetable will ensure that the HotSW stays ahead of other Local Enterprise Partnership areas in agreeing our Local Industrial Strategy with Government.

This will leave us well positioned to develop propositions for investment and submit bids for funding that comes available including under the Comprehensive Review Process.

The HotSW Local Industrial Strategy is our local response to the Government’s national Industrial Strategy and is an important aspect of a multi-channelled approach that we working on with the Local Enterprise Partnership to deliver our priorities.

The national Industrial Strategy sets out some ‘Grand Challenges’ and our Local Industrial Strategy has a central theme which reflects the Clean Growth Grand Challenge. It also focuses on inclusive growth to identify and tackle barriers to enable all local communities to benefit from the opportunities presented by addressing digital exclusion, transport infrastructure, housing and skills.

We have endorsed plans to target engagement with key stakeholders and promoting wider awareness of the Strategy as the work progresses.


HotSW Coastal Productivity Plan

We have given support to the development of a Coastal Productivity Plan to address the slow rates of economic growth of coastal areas as compared to other HotSW areas.

Tackling these issues is critical to achieving our ambition to double the size of the local economy over 20 years. The Plan will also provide a platform to lobby Government through the Comprehensive Spending Review to recognise the important role played by the Coastal Communities Fund in bringing about coastal growth.

The specific issues faced by coastal areas are captured in the House of Lords Select Committee on the Regeneration of Seaside Towns published in April. This provides a robust assessment of the different issues which affect coastal towns but also opportunities for revitalisation and growth. There is the potential to engage with the Government under the Government’s Stronger Towns Fund in support of coastal towns and resorts to become more resilient and better contributors to regional economic growth.

Our discussion focused on the need to ensure that the Plan covers all coastal areas with place-based content to reflect different economic conditions. The Plan will need to address the issue of ‘second homes’ and their impact on the local community. As the draft Plan is progressed there will also be a need to engage with local businesses and communities.

As part of support for the development of the Plan at our September meeting we will consider the establishment of a coastal communities members task group to accelerate this work.


Housing Task Force

We have reviewed our work on housing targeting the delivery of quality housing growth across the Joint Committee area. We remain committed to taking this forward as it is essential to unlock and unleash the economic potential of the area.

This work at a strategic level is focusing on overcoming blockages which are holding back growth at the local level working with the support of (and where necessary, intervention) of Government departments and agencies such as Homes England.

We remain focused on pursuing a HotSW area based package to accelerate housing delivery and to include:

  • Resourcing of a strategic delivery team (capacity funding)
  • A major infrastructure delivery fund to unlock growth
  • A small schemes liquidity fund to bring forward stalled sites.

Following the recent elections we have refreshed the membership of the Joint Committee’s Housing Task Force to drive this work forward with Homes England and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Submission to the Treasury Committee – Regional Imbalances in the UK Economy

We have agreed to prepare and submit a response to a Treasury Committee Inquiry: Regional Imbalances in the UK Economy Inquiry.

This response will build on our lobbying activity to Government for support to enable us to develop the economic opportunities that exist in our area. Our response will focus on the regional imbalances affecting the HotSW economy and how these imbalances can be addressed.

As part of our discussions with Government over preparations for Brexit we have already submitted an offer to support the transition to a post EU-Exit economy with a series of ‘asks’ for the devolution of funding and powers.

This would restructure the way in which Government funds local areas to achieve its ambitions for the local economy. Our response to the Treasury Inquiry will build on these representations.