I hope you have all managed to stay safe and well through these very challenging times to us all and to our economy in dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak. Without question, the last few months have been extremely challenging to most of us whether you have been directly affected by the virus or not.
It’s good to see the economy starting to open-up – the impact on tourism and hospitality businesses specifically will be a welcome boost to our area that relies so heavily on this sector.
The infection rate remains low in the south-west but it continues to be crucial to follow social distancing precautions and we are encouraged that businesses and visitors alike are following the guidelines and staying safe whilst enjoying our unique landscapes and towns.
Broadly we have welcomed the Chancellor’s announcements including VAT reduction and the eating out weekday meal deal. We’ve got a detailed reaction to the mini-budget below, and we welcome these interventions to revitalise the economy and invest in skills and training, which is a central theme to the LEP’s work and the ability to Build Back Better.
As part of the Government’s Getting Building campaign, we secured an allocation of £35.4m – a down—payment to restart our economy ahead of the comprehensive spending review in the Autumn; by far the highest allocation in the south west.
We have prioritised our shovel-ready projects based on the criteria of creating jobs quickly, a solid business case that ensures delivery on time and on budget and contribution to a green recovery.
In its manifesto, the Government committed to a major new programme of investment to replace previous Growth Deal and EU funding. With our recovery route-map in place and a build back better programme set out in our Local Industrial Strategy we are really well placed to rebuild our economy through our SMEs and low carbon priorities.
As ever, stay safe and resilient.
HotSW Route Map to Recovery
It’s been a very busy few weeks working with partners to manage the Covid-19 crisis and effective recovery/response plans. We published our high-level Route Map to Recovery in June, which commits the Board to:
- Develop our investment pipeline – including both capital and revenue projects aligned with the priorities to support recovery and clean and inclusive growth.
- Respond to challenges – using the LEP area’s task force to review each challenge and ensure that we have a coherent local response.
- Consolidate local implementation strategies – bringing together the Heart of the South West’s Productivity Plan, Rural Productivity work, Local Industrial Strategy and Covid-19 response into a single, overarching delivery plan with clear outcomes to guide our actions for the next 3 years.
The Recovery route map called us to work with Government on eight specific actions:
1 Unlocking existing funds to support immediate investment into our area – as a series of ‘quick wins’ this includes:
• Approving the pipeline Strength in Places bids
• Contracting the European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund projects at the second stage of application
• Implementing sector deals by:
- Announcing a tourism zone for the area as per the sector deal to improve productivity through broadening the season, real-time data and skills and training to improve resilience
- Finalising the £10m supply chain support for the nuclear sector.
2 Committing to the delivery of nationally significant infrastructure – including digital infrastructure as well as road and rail (such as the A303, the sea wall at Dawlish and increasing the capacity of the grid) which will support key industries such as construction whilst enabling us to have the right infrastructure for our recovery.
3 A local Covid-19 Recovery Fund – to support all three stages of recovery. A locally managed capital and revenue fund will drive recovery in key opportunities.
4 Aligning national skills funding and activity with local priorities – allowing freedom and flexibilities in funding streams such as the Adult Education Budget and National Retraining Scheme to enable us to deliver effective local responses.
5 Greater furlough flexibilities for hardest hit sectors – recognising that some sectors are likely to be hit deeper and for longer.
6 Working to secure a SW Rural Productivity Plan and Coastal Communities Plan – recognising that those areas have a higher concentration of hardest hit sectors and need specific actions.
7 Publication of the area’s Local Industrial Strategy – built on a substantial evidence base and with strong local support, the Strategy sets out the local and national work needed to deliver clean and inclusive growth for the area.
8 Recognising the Great South West – a partnership with Government outlined in the Great South West prospectus created by the Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly, Dorset and Heart of the SW LEPs.
HotSW Growth Hub
The Growth Hub has been at the forefront of providing business support and advice in recent months receiving 3 to 4 times the call volume.
The transfer from an outsourced service to in-house delivery has been important to provide an agile response and specifically: Publish a Covid-19 newsletter; the Jobs Launchpad; provide support for Business Representative Organisations and monitor the specific concerns of business.
We are also working closely with Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and Dorset LEPs as a Growth Hub cluster on areas of common interest e.g. tourism and the visitor economy.
At a key time for the economy, we have summarised the key points from Rishi Sunak’s mini-budget in relation to the Heart of the South West.
The Heart of the South West (HotSW) Careers Hub is expanding to every school in Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay – becoming one of the largest Hubs in the country.
A toolkit to help businesses in the Heart of the South West to reopen safely has been shared across the country by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Local Authority News
Local Authorities around the area are helping local businesses in the wake of the pandemic with webinars, surveys and online platforms to boost sales. Here is a round-up for this week; follow us on Twitter @HeartofSWLEP and visit our Latest News section of the website for regular updates from the LEP and our partners across all of the HotSW area.
Somerset councils are conducting a Business Recovery Survey which is also open to businesses outside of Somerset to help build a wider picture across the HotSW area, as postcodes are recorded as part of the survey.
Somerset and West Taunton Council is offering a 12 month free trial to www.shopappy.com to support businesses wanting to operate online in Taunton, Wellington and Minehead. The YouTube explainer shows how it works. Also, the Taunton Life App is an app that holds an active directory of local businesses and so much more with what’s on listings, special offers from local businesses.
If you missed any of the LEP’s newsletters that we have shared recently you can find them here: