To receive this report.
The Committee received a report and presentation from the Strategic Commissioning Manager, Economy and Planning which updated Members on the Heart of the South West (HotSW) Productivity Strategy.
The Strategy has been prepared in partnership with district, county and unitary authorities, national parks and the HotSW Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), as well as with Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), private and third sector partners and central government. It is an overarching strategy document that outlines key priorities and objectives for the HotSW. Specifically, it sets out the aim of narrowing the ‘productivity gap’ evident in the HotSW LEP area, driving up prosperity and living standards for all, and securing the resources needed to do so.
In short, the Productivity Strategy aims to double the net worth of the HotSW economy from approximately £35 billion to £70 billion of GVA by 2036. Its stated vision is ‘for all parts of the HotSW to become more prosperous, enabling people to have a better quality of life and higher living standards’. The Productivity Strategy is structured around the three strategic objective areas of ‘Leadership and Knowledge’, ‘Connectivity and Infrastructure’, and ‘Working and Learning’.
Productivity is the measure of competitiveness of an economy and provides a technical way to assess how an economy is fairing.
SCC and other partners and stakeholders are now being consulted on the final draft in advance of a 30th November 2017 deadline. There is also a series of public consultation events planned across the HotSW including one in Somerset on 22nd November 2017. SCC’s response will be considered by cabinet on 15th Cabinet and the Strategy will receive final sign off by the Joint Committee and LEP Board in January 2018.
The Committee discussed the importance of connectivity especially transport and digital infrastructure, particularly with regard to building the rural economy. Members commented that the business economy and rural economy are linked.
They discussed how the HotSW is ranked and compares with other areas and suggested using this measure to assess the progress of achievement against ambitions. It was commented that Somerset’s position within ranking tables will always be challenging because of its geography. Being low in the table demonstrates that there is a lot of opportunity available.
They recognised the importance of having a flexible, over-arching strategy in place but stressed that the detail of its implementation was vital to ensure its success. It is key that the strategy does not only focus on urban businesses or those that don’t relate to land.
The Committee noted the report.