The Heart of the South West LEP AGM was held this month by the Chair and selected Board Members at Exeter Science Park and 66 virtual attendees, to report on the LEP’s achievements of 2019/20 and the impact on the economy over the last six years.
Chair Karl Tucker summarised the LEP’s progress on its investment programme of infrastructure, business support and skills projects; and sends a strong message to Government to back the Great South West as part of its much publicised levelling up agenda.
Karl also thanked the previous chair, Steve Hindley, for his six years of dedicated service, as well as the retiring board members Martha Wilkinson and Steve Smith. New Board member, Professor Lisa Roberts – Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of Exeter University – was welcomed, and a recruitment process is announced for the appointment of four new board members, with a closing deadline of 14 October.
The meeting heard how the LEP is on course for delivery of its investment programme by 2025, which will directly create circa 23,000 new jobs, 19,000 new homes, train 58,000 people and support 31,000 businesses.
Also, headlines were presented on the economic climate of the Heart of the South West and the LEP’s impact on the wider community since 2014 in terms of employment, productivity, infrastructure and wages, which include:
- The Heart of the South West has a £35 billion economy – as big as Birmingham or Liverpool – a population of 1.7m and 72,000 businesses.
- It has experienced historic low levels of productivity with a relatively high employment rate, but with higher than average house prices.
- Since 2014 employment has risen by 5.6% compared with the national rise of 6.5%; productivity has risen by 12.6% – higher than the national rate of 9.8% – which goes some way towards closing the gap but there is still much to do.
- Average earnings per week have risen by 12.2% compared with 12.8% nationally. Circa 32,000 new homes have been built, and lower-paid wage growth has been better than average wage growth, meaning we are progressing towards more inclusive growth.
- However business growth is still around 10% behind the UK average and as this is one of the country’s hardest hit places due to its dependence on sectors most affected by lockdown, the LEP’s Recovery Plan will focus on key opportunity sectors and skills for the future in order to build back better.
Consistent data analysis from a number of business representative organisation, the Office of National Statistics, Oxford Analytics and the Bank of England has shown that whilst the incidence rate of the COVID-19 across our area to date has been low, the economic impact has been high and far-reaching compared to other regions.
Full details of this analysis can be seen at the latest Quarterly Business Bulletin and these findings were central to the chair’s speech and the LEP’s ambitions going forward.
The LEP is on track to publish its Recovery Plan this autumn and the AGM and Board agreed to publish the Heart of the South West Local Industrial Strategy next month in partnership with the Heart of the South West Joint Committee. As part of the set of recovery papers, the LEP will shortly issue its Building Back Better strategy and a set of propositions for the key sectors in the recovery of: Nuclear, Marine, Aerospace, High Streets, Culture, Construction, Tourism and Manufacturing.
Heart of the South West LEP Chair Karl Tucker said:
“We’re very proud of our achievements and this year has inevitably thrown an additional challenge to mitigate the effects of the lockdown and uncertainty around EU Exit; so with renewed impetus we aim to build back better with clean and inclusive growth.
“We strongly urge the Government to commit to its Levelling-Up agenda and reverse the decades of under-investment in this region by spreading opportunities more evenly across the country; not just in metropolitan areas in the North and Midlands.
“In order to achieve our goals we need a high calibre board representing the diversity of our sectors, so I encourage business leaders in the Heart of the South West area to consider applying for our vacant positions on the Board, and join us on our mission to raise productivity and prosperity for all.”
All of the papers for the AGM can be seen at the website, including the full Impact Report, the 2019/20 Annual Report, finance reports, previous minutes, Q & As, the Chair’s speech and a short video animating some of the LEP’s projects.
Prospective candidates for the positions of Non-Executive Directors for the LEP Board can apply at the HotSW LEP website at: https://heartofswlep.co.uk/news/hotsw-lep-seeks-four-non-executive-board-directors/ before 5pm on 14 October.
Papers from the AGM on 18 September 2020Watch video