About the LEP

The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership – covering Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay – is one of the 38 LEPs in England. We are a business-led partnership between the private sector, local authorities, universities and colleges.

Please take a look at the Introduction to the HotSW LEP presentation from David Ralph, CEO for more of an insight into the HotSW LEP.


Vision and Mission

Our vision is to create a dynamic, highly prosperous region with high living standards and an outstanding quality of life; and our mission is to raise productivity and ensure prosperity for all.

As a thought leader influencing economic development, the LEP aims to deliver a transformational rise in productivity; step change in strategic connectivity; raised productivity through inclusive growth; and natural capital that surpasses our current levels.

What we do

  • Identify common priorities
  • Attract resources and investment
  • Make a difference to productivity and prosperity

A thorough analysis of the opportunities for economic prosperity in the Heart of the South West were presented in the Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) published in 2014 which set out the rationale to generate growth and attract inward investment from business and UK and EU government.  Building upon the SEP; the LEP and the Heart of the South West Joint Committee published the Productivity Strategy in 2018, and in 2019 the LEP is working on its Local Industrial Strategy which will align with the Government’s National Industrial Strategy.


The LEP’s business-led partnership comprises 4 County and Unitary Authorities, 12 District Authorities, 4 Universities and 10 FE colleges across Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay.

We are set up to ensure involvement from a wide base, involving leaders and specialists from the public, private, education and third sectors. We use stringent processes around our decision making to ensure the impartiality and transparency expected when using public money. We also have a lean target operating model to ensure we can deliver this with a minimal level of bureaucracy.

See our Policies page for details of how we demonstrate our accountability in line with the high standards required of a not-for-profit organisation managing public funds.

That we are business-led, means that our Board is made up private sector leaders alongside those from the public and social enterprise sectors. Together these provide an essential steer to ensuring our strategies aim for what the business community needs to increase prosperity and productivity.

Transparency and Governance

Board members receive no recompense for their their work with the LEP, and private sector members are recruited through an open advertising and interview process to encourage a broad cross-section of candidates. Their contribution to the economic community is a valuable resource which is unique to the LEPs, since they were set up in 2011.

The LEP is an equal opportunities employer and welcomes applicants reflecting the diversity of the community, and we work within the framework of Somerset County Council’s Equality and Diversity Policy.

The private sector Board membership is balanced by representation from the Local Authorities in Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay, so giving democratic oversight to the Board and the LEP as a whole.

All Board members and LEP officers declare and maintain a register of their interests; and interests are additionally declared ahead of specific agenda items where they may arise in the course of LEP business. This makes sure conflicts of interest don’t arise in meetings. On top of this the LEP’s lean approach means that Somerset County Council acts as our Accountable Body, holding in their bank account all LEP funds, signing funding agreements with delivery bodies or Government.

All procurement and contracts are conducted through Somerset County Council and follows standard Council processes and audit procedures. The Council additionally performs an annual audit of the LEP’s business.

Reporting to the Board are the three Leadership Groups of People, Place and Business. These are made up of local business leaders, business group representatives and local authority officers who devise projects for bidding for the funding streams that become available. The people on these groups and many of their colleagues in local councils, educational establishments and other organisations carry out the day to day work of the Partnership which means its core team (that is, the people employed directly by the LEP to work for it on a full-time basis) can be kept to a very efficient workforce of five people.

All our Board papers, Leadership groups’ papers and funding allocations are published on our website. You can see records of these meetings here by clicking on the buttons on the right of the webpage about the LEP Board, Leadership Group meetings and the Local Transport Board. Also on this page is a list of projects that have received funding as a result of any of our programmes, plus detail about how we fulfil the regulations of an organisation that is funded by public money.

With an investment programme of three-quarters of a billion pounds and with such a broad partnership base, backed up by robust accountability, we are confident this is a highly efficient use of public money that incorporates a thorough degree of scrutiny in its use.

Members of the public can apply via the LEP secretariat in advance of LEP Board meeting dates, to submit written representations, only relating to investment programme and/or funding decisions. These will need to be submitted by email at least 3 days in advance of the scheduled meeting date to info@heartofswlep.co.uk with the title in the subject box: LEP Board written representations.

Heart of the South-West LEP CIC, is a Community Interest Company Limited by Guarantee, registered in England and Wales No. 8880546, Registered Office, PO Box 805, Exeter, Devon, EX1 9UU.

Heart of the South West LEP Annual Delivery Plan 2019/20

Local Quarterly Business Bulletin

The Heart of the South West produces a quarterly Business Bulletin, which provides a comprehensive summary of business sentiment across the Heart of the South West, as well as showing the national context. Thanks to the support of business organisations, the Bulletin conveys the views of over 25,000 businesses within Heart of the South West.

It is part of the LEP’s aim to support local and national policy makers in making informed decisions that reflect the challenges and opportunities within the area.

You can find the latest Quarterly Bulletin here.


Strategies and priorities infographic

Strategic Economic Plan Summary

Annual Report 2019

#LivingBetter Prospectus

Productivity Strategy

Strategies and priorities

LEP Board

How we work

Working in partnership

Facts and Figures