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January 2016

The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership is a strong and dynamic partnership between the private sector, local authorities, universities and further education across Devon, Plymouth, Somerset, and Torbay with the purpose of leading and influence economic growth, job creation and prosperity across the Heart of the South West.

About the Newsletter
Produced monthly, this newsletter aims to keep people informed of current news and activity.

Introduction – Chris Garcia, Chief Executive


2016 brings some important developments for the LEP when much of our strategic planning comes nearer to fruition. All this activity is reflected in this, our longest newsletter ever.

A major step forward for the Heart of the South West took place this week, as the Devolution partnership of local authorities and business leaders published an initial prospectus to government on how we would boost the economy given more local powers. We’ve included the full press release in this newsletter and the prospectus itself is available to download from our website.

Many of the infrastructure projects funded by Growth Deal 1 start on site in the next few months, so we’ll really start to see these important projects taking shape across the whole of the HotSW area, and we’ll provide a round-up of the current schemes in February.

You may have seen in the news that we’re awaiting news of the Final Investment Decision for Hinkley, the latest and most crucial stage in the largest engineering project in Europe, bringing 25,000 new jobs to the area. HotSW LEP is working with partners from across the South West to ensure a significant legacy for local residents and businesses resulting from Hinkley, with its Nuclear Cluster work and the Hinkley Supply Chain that enables companies to take advantage of the opportunities associated with the project.

As we go to press, we’reon the verge of announcing the supplier for our Growth Hub business support service – for all businesses across the Heart of the South West, more news about this is expected to be released next week in the media.

In this month’s newsletter, we introduce our regular round up of reports across the leadership themes of People, Place and Business from the Chairs of these groups, starting this time with Stephen Criddle, Chair of the People group, and there’s an urgent appeal from the Peninsula Rail Task Force for partners to urge government to fund the essential study we’ve been expecting.

We’re working with government departments to mitigate the shortfall in ESIF funding, outlined in this month’s ESIF update, but it’s worth pointing out that whilst there are issues that need to be addressed, there are still plenty of opportunities for businesses and other partners under the funding programmes, notably the LEADER programme for rural projects.

Devolution - Devon and Somerset bid for more powers to boost prosperity

Council chiefs and business leaders say they want a ‘devolution revolution’ to boost prosperity in Devon and Somerset.

They have agreed to submit a prospectus to Government that would result in higher productivity and better-paid jobs, improved road, rail and broadband links and more homes for the region’s growing population.

There would be radical reforms to integrate health and social care to allow the ageing population to be better looked after, tailored support for growing businesses and the creation of a centre of excellence for skills development.

The bid follows months of concentrated work by council chiefs in Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay with 13 district councils, Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks, the local NHS and the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.

They want more powers and finance devolved from Westminster to the region so they can close the productivity gap and allow local people to benefit from a thriving economy.

Currently productivity in the South West is running at less than 80 per cent of the national average.
But the document promises that, if local councils have greater freedom to act, by 2030 they will help deliver:

  • £4 billion uplift to the economy
  • 163,000 new jobs
  • 179,000 more homes
  • Higher wage levels which are above the national average
  • Apprenticeship starts up by 400 per cent
  • Every young person in education, employment or training
  • A better qualified workforce
  • Faster, more reliable rail services with greater capacity
  • Faster road journeys with less congestion
  • 100 per cent superfast broadband coverage
  • A UK centre of excellence for skills development
This is more growth than the three core cities of Birmingham, Bristol and Nottingham have delivered in total, together, over the last fifteen years.
The bid points out that the South West already has world-beating expertise in a number of significant areas such as knowledge-based skills in Exeter, marine industries in Plymouth, nuclear technology at Hinkley Point and aerospace in Yeovil as well as its traditional industries like agriculture, fishing and tourism.

Somerset County Council leader John Osman said: “This is a truly exciting opportunity for all the local authorities involved in this work. We have come together with the common aim of making the most of devolution for our residents and shared priorities around skills, employment and infrastructure.
“The bid reflects our pride in what the region has to offer and our ambitions for its future potential. I look forward to taking the next steps with colleagues from across the South West.”
Plymouth City Council leader Tudor Evans said: “We lag behind the rest of the country in terms of productivity and need to act now to improve the opportunities for our young people, so that they have the right skills to get good high value jobs and grow their careers in this region, helping us all to become more prosperous. We also want to see more local people employed in some of the major opportunities coming our way.
“We are making the Government an offer they can’t refuse.”

Devon County Council leader John Hart said: “We are presenting a united front to the Government and saying this is our vision for our region, let’s negotiate on how you can help us to achieve it.

“I firmly believe, as local people, we can do things more effectively and more efficiently locally than being told what to do by London.

"This is the first time in my political lifetime that the Government has offered local government the opportunity to draw down powers like these.

“This could mean real power coming to the South West. This is a real opportunity for this council and other councils and we would be foolish not to seize it.

“We should be working together for the benefit of the people of Devon and the South West.”
Steve Hindley, Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, said:  “Businesses across the Heart of the South West are the driving force that will deliver transformational growth and are keen to be at the helm of a prospective devolution deal alongside local authority partners.
“We look forward to working with Government and investors as we embark on this journey towards prosperity and increased productivity, that will benefit not only the Heart of the South West but the UK economy as a whole.”

The Heart of the South West devolution partners are:Heart of the South West LEP; Somerset County Council; Somerset’s district and borough councils: Mendip, Sedgemoor, South Somerset, Taunton Deane and West Somerset; Devon County Council; Devon’s district and borough councils: East Devon, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge and West Devon; Plymouth City Council; Exeter City Council; Torbay Council; Exmoor National Park; Dartmoor National Park; Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group; Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group; South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group.

Urgent Appeal from the Peninsula Rail Task Force to Lobby DFT


The Peninsula Rail Task Force (PRTF) is looking for your urgent support to lobby for funding for rail investment. Recently two vital Network Rail studies have been pulled from the rail report due to be published this summer which sets out our prospects for investment. Businesses outlining the effects of poor connectivity on the economy will add weight to this campaign, and all partner support in influencing government is valuable.

Network Rail (NR) and Department for Transport (DfT) have recently confirmed that there is no further funding for development in the South West prior to 2019 and no funding for two key Network Rail studies on journey time reduction and electrification. These latter studies are part of the PRTF report, commissioned by DfT and the Prime Minister and due for publication in summer 2016. The lack of development funds is a longer term worry - we will be competing with other regions for investment from 2019 to even begin working up our proposals. 

Our connectivity is pivotal to our economy and we have been enduring a legacy of minimum investment for many years.  Poor rail links have impacted on inward investment, business confidence and a host of other factors, and resilience, faster journey times and capacity are the key to our plans.

PRTF urges partners to write to DfT to lobby for funding of the South West both for these studies and also to press the point about Dawlish remaining vulnerable for many years until work is underway. We would be grateful if you could use any connections and influence you have in the government. 

Please address your comments to: (please cc or by post to: The Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP. Department for Transport, Great Minster House, 33 Horseferry Road, London,SW1P 4DR
More about the work of the PRTF is available on  Liz Waugh is coordinating the communications and can be contacted for more information on this campaign:

People Group Update from Chair, Stephen Criddle


In the first of regular columns to update partners on the work of the People leadership group, we expect 2016 to be a busy year of much change, challenge and plenty of opportunities for all to rise to.

On the Devolution agenda, the LEP People Group have been supporting the skills and employment theme to consider and champion key area priorities and promote ambitious asks and offers to be included in the prospectus that was published this week. This will be a key area over future months.

The group have also discussed area-based reviews expected later this year, focussing on the shape of future post 16 provision.

We’re working closely with the Department of Work and Pensions on the European Structural Fund (ESF) programme to finalise our priorities in line with the funding available due to recent changes in the amounts allocated across the country.

We’ve also been working with the other opt-in providers on ESF – the Skills Funding Agency and the BIG Lottery Fund - to seek to advance and prioritise key activity, timelines and calls within a moving and involved picture. We’ll provide updates in this newsletter and on the website as plans are finalised.

The People group has key subgroups including the Digital Skills and Inclusion Group which is meeting this week with a range of partners to agree key focusses and actions moving forward. The Construction Skills and Employment Group meets next month and will be progressing Information, Advice and Guidance about careers in the sector.

And finally, the LEP People Group has produced a video to showcase the work that has been happening across the HotSW area in Enterprise Education, and to encourage more partnership initiatives to help young people into careers. It will be published on HotSW website very soon and promoted to partners. We are also pleased that we will soon be able to announce formally more details about our Enterprise Advisor service, working in partnership with the Careers and Enterprise Company.

Heart of the South West Growth Hub Business Cafés


From February until the end of March, HotSW LEP will run a series of Pop-Up Business Cafés at established café venues across the area. These will be informal events co-hosted with a local business organisation offering free, one-to-one ‘no pressure, no sales pitch’ advice from volunteer business experts. The Business Cafés are for budding and experienced business leaders and entrepreneurs.

The business cafés aim to raise awareness of the benefits of business support and the range of support available to them locally to make their organisation more productive and successful.

The service is a forerunner to the main Service for All element of the Growth Hub which will start very soon. Full details will be announced shortly and the HotSW website will be regularly updated with the latest events in your area.

Hinkley advice sessions launching for East Devon businesses


A series of Hinkley Supply Chain Advice and Registration sessions will be launching at the beginning of February to help East Devon businesses make the most of the opportunities around the proposed Hinkley Point C development.
The one-to-one sessions will be held every other month at East Devon Business Centre in Honiton, with the first taking place on Thursday 4th February.
This is part of a pilot scheme by the Hinkley Supply Chain Team, who will help businesses based in East Devon identify the opportunities available to them and understand how to get into a good position to bid for work.
To book a one-to-one session with the Hinkley Supply Chain Team, please contact Tammy Down at East Devon Business Centre on 01404 41719 or email Any business from across the Heart of the South West area wishing to register on the portal or find out more about the support available can visit

Update on the European Structural and Investment Fund


The first ESIF calls for proposals for the Heart of the South West were launched in March 2015, and further calls were published at nationally-set intervals throughout the remainder of 2015.

HotSW LEP has worked actively with Government Departments and ESF Opt-in providers to define the content of calls, and promoted to raise awareness of funding opportunities amongst potential applicants through its communication and stakeholder engagement channels.  

Now there is an impact on allocations in the HotSW area, due to government revisions and exchange rate fluctuations on ESIF allocations.

In autumn 2015, Government Departments undertook a review of local ERDF and ESF allocation profiles, identifying some significant discrepancies against national arrangements. The LEP critically reviewed proposals for our area and submitted comments to both Civil Servants and Ministers.

In December 2015, we received final ERDF and ESF allocation profiles for the Heart of the South West. In light of these profile and exchange rate fluctuations, at its meeting on 12 January, the Business Leadership Group agreed that the LEP position should be to seek to lobby to re-prioritise planned forward ERDF activity in the Heart of the South West, including considering alternative approaches to calls. Should headroom ultimately appear in the programme (e.g. as a result of further exchange rate fluctuations), this LEP position can be updated accordingly.

Work is, therefore, currently under way to develop a LEP position on forward ERDF activity. The intention is to work with Department of Communities and Local Government and the HotSW ESI Funds Sub-Committee to bring forward a number of ERDF business support and innovation calls for the Heart of the South West in April and July 2016. 

People Leadership Group is also working to define a forward approach to affected ESF elements of the ESIF Strategy. The intention is then to work with DWP and the ESIF Sub-Committee to bring forward higher-level skills calls and a workforce development SFA procurement as quickly as possible.  

To date, Defra has made no changes to local EAFRD allocations or €-£ exchange rates, however, in December 2015, the LEP was alerted to the potential for significant reductions to local EAFRD allocations due to €-£ exchange rate fluctuations and an apparent Ministerial commitment to protecting the Sterling value of environmental measures under EAFRD.

In this scenario, the HotSW, as the LEP area with the largest EAFRD allocation, would stand to lose significantly. As such, in December 2015, the LEP articulated its concerns to Defra and continues to track developments. Further updates will be made in this newsletter and on the HotSW website.

Somerset Rivers Authority Flood Prevention


With flooding across many parts of the UK still hitting the news, we bring you the latest on the prevention and mitigation projects underway in our area.

HotSW LEP Growth Deal funding is being used to part-fund the Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) scheme to dredge along the River Parrett, and could be used to fund a proposed scheme of major works along the River Sowy and King’s Sedgemoor Drain, which could bring bigger benefits to a wide geographical area than any other project in Somerset’s wide-ranging 20 Year Flood Action Plan. A public drop-in session about this scheme is being held in Othery Village Hall on Wednesday, February 3, 2.30pm-7.30pm.

Smaller SRA schemes underway in January include drainage improvements in Bicknoller in West Somerset, pumping station work in Glastonbury, and the distribution of detailed community flood resilience plans around Moorland, Fordgate and West Yeo on the Somerset Levels. The plans will help residents prepare for, and respond to, any future flooding.

The SRA’s flood prevention work across Somerset has so far been paid for by interim funding from the government and partners in Somerset such as the councils and the Internal Drainage Boards, along with HotSW LEP Growth Deal funding.

Unlocking Business Investment (UBI) grant – available now


Unlocking Business Investment, the grant programme to help businesses across the Heart of the South West LEP area grow and create wealth and jobs, is open.

Grants of between £25,000 and £499,000 could be available to eligible growing businesses that are able to deliver job creation as part of their development plans.

Grants will be focused on capital items such as plant, machinery and premises, but IT and software, research and development, training and site rental costs may also be considered. Projects must be completed by 31st March 2017 with jobs created by March 2019

Delivered in partnership by North Devon+ and Plymouth University (GAIN), Unlocking Business Investment (UBI) is a programme of funding to stimulate growth in the economy across the HotSW area. Funded by the Regional Growth Fund, the grant aims to support individual businesses to invest in projects that create or safeguard jobs in the private sector.

For more details, or for informal advice on the process, please email and visit:

LEADER funding available to boost rural employment in Devon and Somerset


Rural businesses and organisations across Devon and Somerset are being encouraged to apply for European grants designed to boost rural employment.

The LEADER scheme is one element of the Rural Development Programme for England, funded by the EU and Defra. There is in the region of £12 million of funding available for projects that meet the eligibility criteria throughout most of rural Devon and Somerset, and the funding is available until December 2020.

Grants will be available to support the local rural economy, and will be particularly aimed at increasing farm productivity, developing micro and small enterprises and farm diversification, rural tourism, rural services, cultural and heritage activity and increasing forestry productivity.

Funding will be available directly to businesses and to organisations with innovative and collaborative ideas to improve their economy. Each project will be assessed and funding will be awarded go to those that make the greatest contribution to the local strategic objectives and offer best value for money by creating new jobs and helping the rural economy to grow.

The funding is being administered by eight Local Action Groups (LAGs), each covering a specific area and focused on the things that matter most to their local economies. Contact details of these action groups are available on the HotSW LEP website.  

EEF National Manufacturing Conference 2016 – Buy one, get one free ticket offer for HotSW LEP newsletter readers


Taking place on 24 February 2016 at the QEII Centre, London, this is the premier event in the manufacturing calendar. Southwest business leaders are encouraged to come and be part of the debate, and EEF is offering Heart of the South West LEP partners – which includes newsletter subscribers – a buy one, get one free offer.
With the forthcoming referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the EU, key themes up for discussion include the UK’s future in the EU, unlocking the global trade challenge and cracking Britain’s productivity puzzle. Broadcaster Steph McGovern will chair the day joined by a number of high-profile speakers. The list of speakers, the list and further details are available at:

Ticket prices are £99+vat for EEF members and £249+vat for non-members and HotSW LEP contacts can take advantage of the buy one get one free offer. Please contact EEF Regional Manager Lindsay Lewis for further or 0117 9064809 (direct dial) before 11 February.

Go Construct – New Campaign to encourage people into careers in construction


HotSW LEP has pledged its support to encourage people from all backgrounds to consider one of the many careers in construction and the built environment (CB&E).

Go Construct is a new industry-led campaign which encourages people from all backgrounds to consider a career in construction. The campaign comes at a crucial time, construction accounts for 2.6 million jobs in the UK and the sector is set to grow by nearly 3% over the next five years, creating over 220,000 new roles.

Go Construct has been co-designed and invested in, with over 400 construction employers, schools and colleges, local government organisations and those with a passion for construction having met to share ideas. Phase 2 launches this spring with new content, features and a matching service.

The campaign includes a new web portal at which provides a ‘one stop shop’ for anyone considering a career in the industry as well as providing tools, resources and content for teachers, careers advisors and construction ambassadors. 

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