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December 2015



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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.

www.heartofswlep.co.uk
 

Chief Executive, Chris Garcia

 

2015 has been a transformational year for the Heart of the South West LEP.

In January we started out with very little confirmed funding – but a lot of ambition - and now by December we’ve got projects secured to the value of around half a billion pounds, including the largest Growth Deal 2 allocation in the country – which was just confirmed by the Govt as part of their Comprehensive Spending Review.

Key highlights this year include getting the Growth Deal 1 offer letter in the first month, securing Enterprise Zone status for Plymouth’s site in the spring - to which value has been added in the autumn statement announcement of our other two enterprise zone sites at Huntspill and Exeter. This create a compelling regional offer; no small feat given that only two-thirds of the EZ bids in England were approved.

Other major steps forward include advances in connectivity; with agreement to widen the A303/358; which has long been a barrier to HotSW’s access to markets and therefore affects our competitive advantage.

Also this year we held our first business conference, where we shared ideas and learnt lessons from the businesses community to shape our future policy; the south west  secured £5m for the promotion of tourism in overseas markets; heads of terms agreement has been made for the largest project in Europe that is Hinkley Point C; HotSW LEP is poised to appoint the successful supplier for the Service for All element of the Growth Hub business support service; and we’ve moved ahead with plans for Devolution, led by our local authority partners.

It’s testament to the hard work, enthusiasm and sheer energy of those involved in the early days, that we are in the position that we are now. It’s my privilege to lead our very small core team backed up by a large, vocal and visionary body of public, private and education sector partners who devote their time and energy to driving forward the economic prosperity in the Heart of the South West.

I wish everyone involved in our partnership a very Merry Christmas as we look forward to an even more prosperous and eventful New Year.

Chris Garcia’s Round Up of the Autumn Statement for HotSW

 

As reported in my introduction, the most welcome news we had in last month’s Autumn Statement was the approval of our Enterprise Zone bid and confirmation of the Growth Deal funding commitments made by the previous administration. We’re working with our project management office to profile the delivery of these schemes in the most efficient way.

There’s approximately £4bn left in the £12bn Local Growth Fund which can be allocated to growth-generating projects such as skills, transport and housing. We don’t yet know how this funding may be assigned to HotSW and we’ll keep partners informed as we become aware of further guidance, which is likely to be in the new year.

In terms of the wider skills agenda: There were some announcements about adult skills and community budgets but these are expected to be incorporated into Devolution deals. An apprenticeship levy will be applicable to companies with a payroll over £3m pa; and we are expecting further detail on the outline announcement for the National Nuclear College, which is a hugely exciting development run jointly with Cumbria, based at Bridgwater College in Somerset.

Other highlights are:

  • For business support: £24m is being made available for the funding of Growth Hubs over the next few years; but the Business Growth Service is closed  to further applicants
  • There will be no further Regional Growth funding; Catapult funding to transform the UK's capability for innovation increases with inflation; Innovation UK grant schemes will be replaced by loan schemes and there is an aerospace and automotive R & D budget of £900m confirmed to 2026.
  • There’s significant reform proposed to the New Homes Bonus diverting some money to social care, and various housing schemes to aid developers and small construction firms build more homes.
  • On transport, we are delighted with the announcement of continuing commitment to widen the A303/358 and that a new bidding pot could mean investment in the North Devon Link Road – which was specifically mentioned by the Chancellor as a potential beneficiary.
  • And last but not least our cultural heritage is being invested in – with £500,000 allocated towards the Mayflower 400 celebrations in Plymouth.

Over the coming weeks and months there’ll be lots of work for all of us on many of the above points, so we’ll be in touch with more detail as we become aware. Some of these elements may be weaved into the Devolution Deal and we’ll keep you informed about opportunities for partners to lobby for aspirations and generate a strong, united voice for the HotSW area.

European Structural Investment Fund Update

 

Two new calls have now gone live, under the ERDF strand of the ESIF Strategy for low carbon and research and innovation projects: 
 
Low carbon: OC16R15P 0271

Up to £4,000,000 of funding is available in transition areas, and up to £500,000 in more developed areas; applicants are invited to bring forward proposals for delivery across both categories, as it’s expected that multiple awards will result from this call.
Whilst nuclear projects can be delivered under Priority Axis 4, there have been other calls in the programme for the nuclear sector, so this call is primarily focused on proposals beyond the nuclear industry.
A minimum of £500,000 can be applied for and the outline application deadline is 29 January 2016.

Research and Innovation: OC16R15P 0259 (Agritech)

Up to £825,000 of funding is available for revenue projects to predominantly support businesses based in the transition regions of the Heart of the South West (Devon County and the Plymouth and Torbay unitary authority areas).
This call is for agritechnology related smart specialisation activity in the transitional area only. Applicants should note that primary production, processing and marketing of agricultural products is ineligible for European Regional Development Fund support.
The minimum value for applications is £500,000, however it is expected that this call will result in the award of a single contract.
The outline application deadline is 29 January 2016.
 
As a reminder the Rural Tourism call is still open:
 
The first European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) call for the Heart of the South West seeks applications from rural businesses, communities, farmers and landowners for projects that support the creation or expansion of visitor attractions; development and provision of visitor information; and/or improvement or creation of recreational and small-scale infrastructure.
 
Further information on the scope of the call, eligible beneficiaries, match-funding requirements and application processes are available here and for queries in relation to this funding opportunity, the Rural Payments helpline is available on 0300 0200 301 or by e-mail GPEnquiries@rpa.gsi.gov.uk.

This call has a total value of £500,000 with applicants able to apply for grants from £35,000 to approximately £140,000. The deadline for outline applications is 5pm on 8 January 2016.

A number of other rural funding opportunities are available through Countryside Stewardship, Countryside Productivity and LEADER strands of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE). Further details can be found on the HotSW LEP funding pages.

Update to Business Support services in the HotSW area

 

A new, publically funded business support programme has launched in the HotSW area.  GetSet for Growth is a specialist service offering fully funded marketing and finance expertise to ambitious businesses with the potential to grow, through the Regional Growth Fund.

GetSet for Growth focuses on helping business overcome the two biggest barriers to growth: access to customers and access to finance.

Business can get more information and register their interest at http://www.getsetforgrowth.com/ or by phoning 0800 587 7707.

In the Autumn Statement, The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced the closure of the Business Growth Service (previously Growth Accelerator and Manufacturing Advisory Service) on 31 March 2016, and up to this date, the service is only dealing with existing clients. 

There is information available for growing businesses through the http://www.greatbusiness.gov.uk/ website and via the National Business Support Helpline 0300 456 3565.

The LEP is currently in the process of procuring the Service for All element of the new Growth Hub – a business support service just for businesses in the HotSW area - that is free at the point of entry and has the expertise to signpost businesses to any area of support available both locally and nationally.

The new service is expected to be up and running early in 2016 and regular updates on its progress is published on the HotSW LEP website.

Devolution for the Heart of the South West “A Prospectus for Productivity” Update from the Devolution Project Management Office led by the Local Authorities

 

The 17 local authorities, two National Parks, the LEP and the three Clinical Commissioning Groups across the Heart of the South West are moving towards the next stage in their proposals to secure a devolution deal.  The focus, through joint working and pooled funding, is to deliver greater prosperity and wellbeing not only to those living across the Heart of the South West but to improve our contribution to the prosperity of the nation.

The partnership has a single, ambitious and compelling vision for productivity-led growth for the Heart of the South West delivered through a single productivity strategy and a single investment programme, focused on delivering £4 billion productivity gain for the UK.

The developing proposals will:

  • Maximise the potential of our people – building on best practice to ensure they live healthier, more fulfilling lives and have the opportunity to gain the right skills to access higher value jobs; allowing them to grow careers and prosperity right here in the Heart of the South West.
  • Ensure our businesses have the tools and support they need to create an additional 80,000 jobs.
  • Ensure that our communities have a long term plan for sustainable growth supported by accelerated infrastructure projects and housing growth.
  • Ensure that our health and care arrangements can build on innovative and national best practice and enable our people and communities to have longer, healthier and more productive lives.

Partners have chosen productivity-led growth as the focus of our proposals because the Heart of the South West significantly lags behind the rest of the UK in terms of productivity and this gap grows each year. This means that our workers and their families earn substantially less than workers in other parts of the country and this is holding back our potential.

We want to change this and play our part in enabling the Heart of the South West to capitalise on all its assets and opportunities and become amongst the higher earning, higher skilled and healthier citizens in the UK.

We have identified key opportunities which we must capitalise on for the benefit of people and communities across our area. These include:

  • Our Marine Environment.
  • Investment in Nuclear.
  • Environmental futures with the growth of high tech businesses.
  • Aerospace and advance engineering.
  • Health and Social Care, with some of the most innovative practice and developments for integration.
  • Rural productivity.

This presentation sets out our developing ‘asks and offers’ around our people, our businesses and our place. This provides an insight into the work being undertaken, and the complexity of developing a bid for agreement across a diverse range of partners, communities and interests. 
A more detailed draft is currently being developed with the aim for agreement by all partners before Christmas followed by discussion with key stakeholders in the New Year.

Summary from the November Board Meeting

 

The LEP Finance and Resources committee will report to the board on the potential use of Growing Places Funds to attract new investment, and will consider a proposal from the board to fund further research to support the economic case for the Peninsula Rail Task Force campaigns.

The board discussed the implications on the LEP had the funding for Growth Deal 2 not been confirmed, and agreed in all events to increase the momentum in engaging local MPs to use their influence in government to focus on the Heart of the South West. The LEP is working to align the profiling of expenditure on Growth Deal projects.

The board was briefed on the issue that the Department of Work and Pensions’ inflexibility surrounding the details of ESIF funding and the LEP continues to seek influence.

Patrick Flaherty, Chief Executive of Somerset County Council, outlined the current proposal and timelines for a Devolution Deal and the outstanding issues around governance. Feedback from business indicates that they are not very concerned about governance but are in favour of regional decision making, more funding for skills and have a desire to push a vision for growth. Board members believe that the deal needs to ask for something bold, ambitious and innovative, and that LEP and Business involvement needs to be ramped up to ensure the final document portrays a passion for innovation and transformation.

Increased pressure on government is taking place to mitigate the delays, bureaucracy and revised funding allocations and outputs within the ESIF strategy.

Findings of the LEP Annual Review were outlined, which will shape the business plan, measuring performance against the Strategic Economic Plan, resulting in a single improvement plan to be reviewed by the Finance and Resources group.

The Place Leadership group chair gave a presentation on the recent report from the Housing Task and Finish Group which aims to address barriers and solutions to the provision of housing. The board discussed the ideas presented in the report and its implications on partner funding and the areas’ Local Plans.

It was noted that much of this paper is relevant to Devolution in terms of offering a local solution, and it was suggested that rural villages and small towns had a role to play in addressing housing shortages which would also benefit the viability of small communities.

In conclusion the Chair deferred the paper for further work and discussion with Local Authority planning managers and input from local house builders prior to the housing agenda being incorporated into the Devolution Deal.

The roles of the Leadership Groups and their terms of reference are being explored with a view to improving the synergy and lines of communication and decision making throughout the LEP and its partners.

Flood Mitigation Update

 

Pictures of the recent flooding up in Cumbria have been prompting memories of what HotSW experienced back in 2013-14, and there’s a great deal of empathy with those residents and businesses affected, especially ones that had been counting on a seasonal Christmas boost.

In Somerset it’s estimated that the floods of 2013/14 cost the county up to £147.5 million. An Economic Impact Assessment published this summer showed that half of the businesses surveyed across Somerset were affected by flooding, while road closures had an impact on nine out of 10 businesses. Partly because of the wider public perception that Somerset was closed for business, the number of lost tourist days in the county between January and July 2014 could have been just under 700,000 – and there were knock-on effects across the South West.

HotSW LEP is still investing heavily in projects to give Somerset extra flood protection and more resilience. Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA), for example, is planning to use HotSW LEP Growth Deal money in new dredging downstream of Northmoor Pumping Station. Contractors are due to start mobilising in February. This works extends the major 8km dredge of the Parrett & Tone that was carried out in 2014.

The SRA is also proposing to spend HotSW LEP Growth Deal money on the next phase of a major scheme to improve the water-carrying capacities of 20km of the River Sowy and King’s Sedgemoor Drain (KSD). The first stages of this scheme helped to protect the A372 at Beer Wall from flooding. The next phase will bring greater benefits in flood risk reduction to a wide geographical area than any other single project in Somerset’s 20 Year Flood Action Plan. It involves widening the Sowy by between two and four metres, clearing silt and working on banks.

Early in the New Year, work starts on a project to remove a significant obstruction from under Dunball old bridge which can have the effect of making water flows so turbulent they scour under Dunball new bridge – which carries the A38. So this part of the scheme will help protect a vital road from damage and potential temporary closure.

A public drop-in session about the next phase of the Sowy / KSD scheme is going to be held at Othery Village Hall on Wednesday, 3 February, 2.30 – 7.30pm. Interested parties are welcome to attend to find out more.

HotSW success in Coastal Revival funding awards

 

The Heart of the South West’s Strategic Economic Plan refers to the area’s distinctive assets as a unique selling point for generating economic development and tourism, and some of these assets have been recognised and invested in, in the recent awards of the Coastal Revival Fund.

Out of the £3m national fund, around £400,000 has been allocated to 9 projects in the Heart of the South West, making up around 1/7th of the national share. Not surprisingly, given its coastline, the south west got nearly half of the national funding, and HotSW projects got nearly half of that.

The organisations that bid for this funding - which could be any organisation such as local authorities, trusts, charities etc - are to be congratulated on their success is securing funding for these projects in the HotSW area: Paignton Picture House and Shoalstone Pool in Torbay; Mountbatten Tower, TE Lawrence Memorial Trail and Tinside Lido East Development in Plymouth; Lynmouth Flood Memorial Hall in Devon; The Steam Coast Trail, Minehead Enterprise Esplanade, Watchet Rope Walk and Weston Museum in Somerset.

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