Introduction David Ralph, HotSW LEP CEO
Over the last few months, the LEP has continued to focus on the immediate business challenges due to COVID and the increasingly looming end of the EU Exit transition period.
The LEP’s Growth Hub has distributed almost three-quarters of a million pounds in grant support to businesses in our area, many in the particularly hard-pressed tourism and hospitality sectors, and we continue to make the case with Government for more support for the area’s businesses. We are also upgrading the advice and support available around Brexit to help over the next few weeks and into 2021. There is a huge range of other business support information available on our Growth Hub, so please do direct your contacts to this extremely useful online and telephone resource.
The LEP is working closely with our partners on COVID recovery plans, which will ensure we are able to build back better – delivering wider prosperity through clean and inclusive growth. The foundation of this will be our Local Industrial Strategy (LIS), which sets out three key opportunity areas and which I’m delighted to say we published last week – you can read more about this below. Alongside this, we’ve published a set of factsheets to set out how we are planning to support those hardest hit sectors and more will be added in the coming weeks.
We’re also pleased that the PM is stepping up the Government’s commitment through the recently announced ten-point plan for the Green Industrial Revolution, to which our LIS is aligned. Although there were no specific south west parts to the PM’s announcement, we have some clear opportunities for the area that we will develop with Government.
Last week also saw the announcement of the Spending Review, which included the news of a £4bn Levelling Up fund, set out early details of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (to replace EU monies) and confirmed funding for a range of transport projects which benefit our area. We are working with other LEPs on the Levelling Up and UKSPF and expect to have more details in the coming weeks. The National Infrastructure Strategy (NIS), published the same time as the spending review, included confirmation of Government funding for the A303 Stonehenge tunnel, which follows closely on news of the Development Consent Order for the work; this is something the LEP has campaigned about for many years and we will continue to work hard to ensure this commitment is delivered.
The LEP Board has approved the full suite of projects to be funded from the £35.4 million Getting Building Fund awarded to the LEP in the summer and we will be publishing details of these on our website as contracting is finalised through December. We are also pressing on with delivery of the existing Growth Deal programme, which completes in March 2021, and it is fantastic to see the Podimore dualling moving forward, the North Devon link road funded and that Government has confirmed £21.9m for Torquay’s Town Deal. However, I remain concerned over the pace of progress on Network Rail’s long-term solution at Dawlish and we will continue to push for this to be prioritised.
2020 has been a year that hardly anyone could have predicted just a few months ago. It’s been tough, in some cases personally harrowing, and I sincerely hope for more ‘normal’ times in 2021. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our partners and stakeholders for their hard work and support through this challenging year. It has demonstrated, once again, that as an area we are stronger and more effective by working together and I look forward to that continuing in 2021.
Local Industrial Strategy released
Hot off the press is the release of our Local Industrial Strategy. It comes in response to the Government’s national Industrial Strategy and builds on the ambitious Heart of the South West Productivity Strategy published in 2018.
This strategy recognises the particular challenges faced by the Heart of the South West area as it seeks to recover from the pandemic and sets out a long-term approach to create a more resilient, sustainable economy.READ MORE
Export Growth Plan to help businesses build back better
A package of measures to help businesses in England build back better following the pandemic has been announced by the Government, which targets the South West as one of the specific regions most in need.
The allocation in the HotSW LEP area is £1.3m ERDF funding, with £800k for the Transition of Devon, Plymouth and Torbay, and £500k for the More Developed area of Somerset. The South West is one of three areas to be awarded the fund, alongside the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine.
The Department for International Trade’s (DIT) Export Growth Plan provides additional financial support and expertise. The plan includes a £38 million Internationalisation Fund for small businesses, which will help up to 7,600 SMEs in England grow their overseas trading and strengthen their business.READ MORE
Plymouth home to world’s first ocean-based 5G marine testbed
Plymouth Sound is to be home to the world’s first ocean-based 5G marine testbed, putting the city at the very forefront of marine and maritime innovation.
Part of the Marine Business Technology Centre’s testing and proving ground, Smart Sound Plymouth, the new high-speed 5G private wireless network will be provided in partnership with Vodafone and Nokia. The 5G network will be free for eligible businesses to use for the development of new marine technology and will give them consistent coverage out on the water. The full testbed will be available from early 2021.READ FULL STORY
Chance for businesses to join Made in Devon for a year for free
Fifty Devon businesses have the chance to join trading standard’s ‘Made in Devon’ scheme with their first year of membership free.
Scheme membership will enable businesses to demonstrate that any claims made about a product’s Devon origins have been checked, vetted and verified by officers from Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards.READ MORE
South West Energy Hub funds Wiveliscombe Community Energy scheme
A scheme to develop ‘better than carbon neutral’ housing in Somerset has secured £25,000 grant funding to move plans forward with a feasibility study.
A Wiveliscombe Community Energy Scheme is being developed by Somerset Cooperative Community Land Trust with the potential to deliver heat and electricity for 20 affordable homes for local people in housing need and two community/social enterprise buildings. The scheme could also generate income from selling energy to fund local projects, determined by the local community.READ MORE
Digital Skills Partnership wins Tech South West Award
The Digital Skills Partnership’s goal is to drive the digital upskilling of everyone living in Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay. Its mission is to ensure there are opportunities for everyone to engage with a digital skills workshop or programme to advance their learning.
The Contribution to the Community Tech South West Award recognises the difference the partnership is making in the South West.READ MORE
Hi Tech & Digital Centre wins Education Project of the Year
South Devon College’s Hi Tech & Digital Centre was crowned the winner in the category ‘Education Project of the Year’, at the Michelmores Property Awards virtual ceremony on 19th November.
The annual Property Awards celebrate the most prestigious, innovative and exciting developments taking place in the South West and, with this success, the College are seeing great recognition for their vision of education in the region.READ MORE
Opportunity to join the LEP team
HotSW LEP is seeking a Communications and Partnership Manager to develop robust outcome-focussed partnerships, represent the LEP with stakeholders and develop and implement a strong communications approach.
This is an exciting opportunity to join the LEP as we move into planning the recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, build a stronger, more resilient economy and create better quality jobs in the area. A full job description and details of how to apply can be found here.
Closing date for applications is Wednesday 16 December.
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