Introduction David Ralph, HotSW LEP CEO
As May draws to a close, I remain cautiously optimistic about the continued easing of COVID-19 restrictions, although we still have a couple of weeks to wait to see the figures on the Indian variant and the impact that may have on June 21st.
In the Heart of the South West area, whilst some sectors have clearly suffered more than others, early modelling shows that the severe economic impact of the pandemic is likely to be short-term, with levels of business failure at this stage relatively low and a strong bounce back increasingly expected. You will be able to read more about our area’s economy in the latest Business Bulletin, which will be released next week.
The Queen’s speech two weeks ago was very much focused on recovery and confirmed that a Levelling Up White Paper is due later this year, setting out ‘bold new policy interventions’ including new jobs, boosting training and growing productivity in places where it has previously declined. The Government’s Plan for Growth will lay the foundations for a recovery driven by the private sector and commits to legislation on Net Zero to underpin the Green Industrial Revolution and help create 2,500 green jobs in the UK.
The HotSW LEP’s focus is also firmly on economic recovery for our area. We have now released our Blueprint for Clean Growth, part of our plan to Build Back Better and drive clean and inclusive economic growth. You can read more about it below and we will be talking more about the projects and work set out in the Blueprint over the coming months.
The LEP Board have also agreed our workplan for 2021-22, centred around delivering our current programmes and activity such as the Getting Building Fund, driving forward the transformational opportunities under Build Back Better and continuing to ensure highly effective LEP operations. You can see our full workplan here.
Alongside delivering our immediate priorities, we are also awaiting the outcome of the Government’s current LEP Review to determine our future shape and role and we are working with the LEP Network and other partners to input to this. Details on Government’s plans are expected before the summer recess and Paul Scully MP, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, recently told the BEIS select committee that LEPs would remain the key drivers of local economies.
LEP signs up to UN's 'Race to Zero' as part of ambitious clean growth agenda
HotSW LEP is aiming to be a pioneer with its ambitious commitments to clean growth, which includes a pledge to help place the Heart of the South West area on a resilient pathway to net zero by the 2040s or sooner.
The pledge forms part of the plans set out in the LEP’s newly released ‘Blueprint for Clean Growth’. The LEP wants to grow the area’s economy in a clean and sustainable way by delivering inclusive economic prosperity whilst protecting the environment, lowering emissions and enhancing natural capital. The blueprint sets out how it will do this, by focusing on the area’s blue and green economy, creating the necessary conditions to enhance the economic connections with the marine and land-based environments.READ THE FULL BLUEPRINT HERE
Further applications invited to LEP's £900k inward investment fund
The HotSW LEP has announced a second round for applications to its £900k ERDF Inward Investment Support Grant Scheme. The fund, designed to boost economic recovery and create new jobs in Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay, offers grants of between £25k-£150k which require match funding, to foreign-owned businesses based in the region who are looking to grow.
Two businesses who successfully secured grants of almost £190k between them in the first round are EFFECT Photonics and Vexcolt, which will lead to the creation of over 70 new jobs.READ MORE HERE
Wessex Internet marks start of work to bring ultrafast broadband to South Somerset
Wessex Internet has laid its first fibre cable near North Cadbury to mark the start of an extensive three-year programme to bring full fibre broadband connectivity to thousands of homes and businesses in South Somerset.
The contract was awarded following a successful bid to Connecting Devon and Somerset. The programme is supported with funding from HotSW LEP’s Growth Deal.READ MORE
New multi-storey car park opens at Taunton station as part of major redevelopment
A new 400 space multistorey car park at Taunton station has now opened, a month after the new ticket office welcomed travellers for the first time.
Great Western Railway is working with HotSW LEP, Somerset County Council and Somerset West & Taunton Council to deliver the scheme, designed to help support the town’s economic development plans.
Improvements for the station include the new ticket office; station entrance and forecourt with additional bike spaces; and the new multi-storey car park.
An improved bus and taxi interchange and easier access to the town centre and Firepool development will also help improve the customer experience for people visiting the town by train – a number that is expected to double over the next 10 years.READ MORE
Take part in Heart of the South West social mobility consultation
Recognising the significant gaps around education achievement, progress and aspiration within our area’s most deprived communities and hardest to reach groups, the Heart of the South West Skills Action Plan includes a commitment to develop a dedicated Social Mobility and Inclusion Plan.
The Skills Advisory Panel has launched a consultation to understand what is currently working well in communities and areas of work and what more could be done, to help inform activity within the programme.TAKE PART IN THE CONSULTATION HERE