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March 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.

www.heartofswlep.co.uk
 

Introduction - Chris Garcia, Chief Executive

 

We’ve got lots of news this month about significant opportunities affecting the Heart of the South West economy including the Budget, the Growth Deal, Hinkley Point C, Devolution, along with our usual update on the European Programme and LEP initiatives such as the Growth Hub.
 
Also, we’ve just had our annual LEP Network National Conference and you may have seen in the news that there’s been a National Audit Office report into LEPs - so this is a good time to just have a re-cap of the LEP and how it fits into the local strategic economic environment.
 
The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP) is a partnership of 17 Local Authorities, 2 National Parks, 4 Universities and 10 FE Colleges across the county and unitary areas of Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay.
 
The Heart of the South West area has a population of 1.7m and is home to 78,000 businesses. Our purpose is to act as a strategic partnership between councils, the education sector and business to determine economic priorities that will facilitate the generation of growth, employment and prosperity across the HotSW area.
 
LEPs were set up by the government in 2011 and have just been subject to a National Audit Office review, the findings of which we welcome, as a reflection on the growing role of LEPs in delivering local growth and some of the challenges we face.
 
As a business-led organisation with a business-led approach to investment decisions, value for money and transparency is critical.
 
We believe that the current model - in which we work with our partners under the accountable body of Somerset County Council and a robust  Assurance Framework - enables us to deliver a value for money service with the right checks and balances expected of public funds.
 
Our results to date are testament to that approach. We have already leveraged £31m in private sector investment, and will generate 163,000 new jobs for our local economy. And although we might be streamlined on staff, this model gives us the necessary resources to meet the expectations of government efficiently, whilst being transparent and generating far reaching partnership engagement.
 
The Devolution landscape is rapidly changing and LEPs are central to the government’s progress of the English Devolution agenda. As the Secretary of State of Department for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, made clear in June last year: “These partnerships.…created between local businesses and local government, have been a phenomenal revolution. And this has completely changed the way investment and growth is done in this country.”And last week at the LEP Network conference: “All growth is local…all deals up and down the country contribute to national growth.” Therefore our local focus and political neutrality is our strength.
 
We have the Strategic Economic Plan for HotSW that will be refreshed, in partnership, to reflect the necessary changes due to Devolution, and we’re committed continuing to work with partners in the HotSW area as well as national government to improve productivity and growth in Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay.
 
The biggest project on the horizon for our area, of course, is Hinkley Point C (HPC) and there’s been much speculation in the media in recent weeks which we’ll attempt to shed some light on.
 
We’re confident in EDF and the UK and French governments’ commitment to the project; a communiqué published by the British and French Governments after the 3 March Franco-British summit states:

“This major strategic project is a pillar of the bilateral relationship and will be a key aspect of Britain's energy policy, offering the guarantee of safe, competitive, decarbonized energy by 2025”.

We're working with our public sector leaders and private sector board members to urge government to announcea final investment decision with EDF Energy and the French government to move ahead.

It’s worth a reminder that the LEP isn’t funding any part of the Hinkley project – our role is to deliver a legacy that will make sure that the benefits of having the largest project in Europe on our patch means that our local workforce have the skills to take up the jobs, and our local businesses have the capacity and knowledge to take up the supplier contracts.
 
The projected benefits of HPC represent an investment of at least £18 billion in our economy, the creation of 25,000 jobs including 1,000 apprenticeships, and will potentially see 60% of the supply chain for the project coming from UK companies.
 
The project also has national significance by putting the UK at the forefront of the global nuclear industry and securing the future of the nation’s energy security.
 
However certain barriers need to be overcome for us to maximise on such a legacy. Skills and knowledge need to be raised amongst businesses and the workforce to become “fit for nuclear” and take full advantage of these supply chain opportunities; and the recent ruling which renders support for the nuclear industry ineligible for European funding affects our ability to deliver the projects that we had planned to address these barriers. And of course,the media speculation has no doubt led to businesses who are well-placed to win future contracts in the HPC supply chain not preparing themselves for the opportunity.

So we’re looking to meet with government to dispel uncertainty and find a solution to enable HotSW LEP and its partners to deliver our planned integrated programme of skills, supply chain and R&D support that will deliver the maximum economic and energy security legacy.

In the meantime, we would urge local businesses to register on the Hinkley Supply Chain Portal to take up the many existing opportunities and be prepared for new ones in the event of the final investment decision.

Finally, I know many partners will be interested in the latest news on the awaited “Growth Deal 3”, so we’ve included a brief update in this newsletter. It’s important to manage expectations in relation to the Growth Deal, there is no guarantee to the LEP from government about the level of funding we may or may not get, and there is no guarantee that the recommendations put forward by the LEP would be taken on board by the decision makers in Parliament and Whitehall.
 
Nevertheless we are confident that our partnership has the knowledge and expertise to put forward a compelling case so that we can be cautiously confident in our ability to persuade the government to make a further injection of investment for the HotSW area. 
 

News from the Heart of the South West LEP Place Leadership Group


Each month we bring you the latest from one of the LEP’s three Leadership Groups: People, Place and Business. This month’s column is from Barbara Shaw, Chair of the Place Leadership Group and Chief Executive of Westward Housing Group.
 
In my role as Chair of the Place Leadership Group as well as in my role as Chief Executive of Westward Housing, I’m passionate about delivering great services and making organisations highly efficient and professional, whilst still focusing on people. The Place Leadership Group is the strategic lead group for infrastructure, place shaping and strategic planning issues in the HotSW area relating to the growth agenda.

The group has been assigned the lead role within the LEP’s formal governance arrangements, for the EAFRD (European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development) element of our European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF) strategy. We’ve been asked by the Rural Payments Agency if we would like to review the strategy, so a consultation exercise is underway with partners to see if any new projects or priorities need to be put forward before the deadline of 11 April, and I look forward to seeing what innovative ideas are presented.
 
Current strategies of the Place group are affordable housing and connectivity infrastructure, so we’ve commissioned a report into affordable housing which is being considered among the area’s Devolution plans; and the restrictions in the electricity grid system - which has the potential to adversely affect investment in the HotSW area - is being addressed at board level with HotSW partners and government.
 
I’m pleased to see the latest news about the future Growth Deal, outlined later in this newsletter, which has the potential to further improve the infrastructure in HotSW which is crucial to our economic growth. 

 

Heart of the South West LEP – Key Points from 2016 Budget


This is a short summary of some key points from the Budget relating to the Heart of the South West area which other commentators may not have picked up on. The full budget document can be found here:
  • South West England will be part of the first wave of science and innovation audits to help map the regions research and innovation strengths and identify areas of potential global competitive advantage, and HotSW LEP is keen to harness these opportunities. 
  • The Budget announced £19 million funding for community-led housing schemes in areas most impacted by holiday homes, using Stamp Duty Land Tax revenue raised from the higher rates for purchases of additional properties.   
  • The government will support the interim report of the Peninsula Rail Task Force (PRTF) by investing an additional £5 million in developing options to improve the resilience of the rail line between Newton Abbot and Exeter via Dawlish, and will fully consider the recommendations in the Peninsula Rail Task Force’s final report when it is published in June, and the LEP will support the PRTF is this activity. 
  • The Budget launched the Local Majors Fund, so that local areas in the South West can bid for funding for large local transport schemes, including the North Devon Link Road 
  • There is a £3 million allocation to improve rail stations across the South West and £8 million during 2016-17 to fill around 159,000 potholes. 
  • There will be trials of comparative fuel price signs on the M5 between Bristol and Exeter by spring 2016 to drive fuel price competition and help motorists save money. 
  • The government will distribute £14.5 million in grants to extend ultrafast broadband coverage in the South West – £4.5 million more than the £10 million allocated at the Spending Review. As part of its assessment of how the UK can become a world leader in 5G, the National Infrastructure Commission will use the South West as a case study.

European Structural Investment Fund Update

 

HotSW LEP held two workshops this month to help raise awareness of upcoming European Regional Development Funding opportunities and to bring potential partners together who may wish to submit joint bids. Presentation slides can be viewed here, and we will shortly be publishing a video from the events.
 
It is expected that the next round of ERDF calls for proposals will be published between 11th and 29th April and we are anticipating that new calls for the HotSW will include: Innovation, Social Enterprise Support, Workspace and possibly Digital Utilisation. (Those interested in Social Enterprise Support may be interested to read the article below about a recent report on the subject.) Further information on these expected ERDF calls as well as ESF and EAFRD updates can be found on the ESIF pages of our website 

As soon as calls go live you can be notified directly by signing up to the government website for email alerts here.  
 
In order to help organisations in our area to collaborate and find potential partners for ESIF bids, there is now a Partner Database [link] on the website, and partners are encouraged to share their details and ideas in order to work in collaboration with other businesses and add value to their projects.

Heart of the South West Growth Hub

 

Progress Update - The Heart of the South West Growth Hub service has successfully started supporting businesses across the LEP area, signposting and making referrals to local and national business supports services. Businesses seeking advice on finance has been top of the list of requests to the Growth Hub team so far.  David Hynd, Programme and Partnership Manager for the service has said “I encourage all businesses to take advantage of the support that is available through the Growth Hub and for those who may not be looking for support at the moment, sign up to our newsletter so you can stay up to date with support that is available.”
 
Business Support Providers - The Growth Hub team are busy gathering intelligence from business support providers to build their knowledge bank of business support services. If you are a provider of business support and are yet to make contact with the Growth Hub team please do so that they are able to make referrals to your services. info@heartofswgrowthhub.co.uk  
 
Events and Workshops – the Growth Hub website is home to listings of a wide range of free and part funded business support events and workshops including the LEP funded Pop up Cafes. You can find links directly to online booking forms for events where available or call the Growth Hub team 03456 047 047 for more information. 

Heart of the South West Pop Up Business Cafes

 

From now until the end of April, HotSW LEP is running a series of free Pop-Up Business Cafes at established café venues across the area.
 
They are informal events co-hosted with a local business organisation offering one-to-one ‘no pressure, no sales pitch’ advice from volunteer business experts. The Business Cafes are for budding and experienced business leaders and entrepreneurs.
 
They 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.
 
Popular topics of conversation include accounting, business planning, structures, finance raising, growth, HR, marketing, regulations, nuclear supply chain management, recruitment, selling, social media, training, tax, websites and many more.
 
15 events have already been planned in Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay, they start at either 8am or 9am until 12 midday, with the next one taking place tomorrow, Friday 1 April, at the Old Church School in Frome.
 
Full details and registration instructions are available at www.heartofswgrowthhub.co.uk and more events will be added as they are arranged. Alternatively, the Heart of the South West Growth Hub booking team can be contacted on 03456 047 047.
 
The Business Cafes complement the main “Service for All” element of the Growth Hub, outlined in more detail above. 
 

Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Officer Wins National Award

 

A Devon and Somerset Trading Standards officer has been honoured at a national awards ceremony for his work in boosting business by forging closer ties between traders and regulatory bodies.

Former businessman Tim Milsom, owner of Exminster Garage for 27 years, has clinched the Government’s inaugural Better Business for All (BBfA) ‘Individual Ambassador’ Award at a ceremony in London.

The Devon and Somerset BBfA Partnership is an alliance of 19 local authorities across Devon and Somerset along with HotSW LEP and the Fire and Rescue Service working with local economic development teams and a wide ranging group of business representatives helping to debunk the myth held by many businesses that regulatory services are a bureaucratic barrier to successful trade. Tim has maintained a strong vision for how the BBfA initiative can benefit businesses and his passion to see this work in the HotSW LEP area has been inspiring. 
 

Enterprise Adviser Service

 

As reported in February’s newsletter, HotSW LEP's new Enterprise Adviser Service was launched earlier this month at the Flybe Training Academy and was attended by schools, businesses and training providers from across the Heart of the South West area.

The project is now seeking business mentors. Business volunteers will work directly with school leadership teams to develop effective employer engagement plans. They will also work with other local businesses to equip young people with the skills they need.

The Enterprise Adviser Service is designed to encourage links between schools and business. The aim is to encourage businesses to work together with schools to support young people in making choices about their future career.

CSW Group is contracted to provide the service, which is being funded by the Careers and Enterprise Company, Devon County Council, Somerset County Council, Plymouth City Council and Torbay Development Agency.

To find out more, and to register your interest, please visit: www.heartofswlep.co.uk/eas
 

Growth Deal Update

 

As referenced in Chris Garcia’s introduction, there was an announcement in the Budget for a further £1.8billion from the national Local Growth Fund, for the next round of Growth Deals, and last week at the LEP Network National Conference the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, Greg Clark, confirmed that:

  • LEPs are invited to submit a competitive Growth Deal bid by an expected deadline of late June / early July, and the final announcement of allocations will be around the Autumn Statement (late November / early December).
  • There is no set template for bids, LEP areas are encouraged to take the initiative and submit proposals that best meet the needs of the local economy. However, Government are likely to favour proposals which leverage additional public and private funds - such as resources from universities, colleges and businesses; those that are aligned with Devolution ambitions and; those that encourage cross-LEP working.

In preparation for this process which we expected to be announced, last summer the LEP invited project proposals from partners via the Leadership Groups and the Local Transport Board (LTB) so that we would have a “project bank” at the ready.
 
The government only require an indicative list by the summer, so there will be an extra chance to submit new or refreshed projects after the Autumn Statement when we know how much our HotSW allocation is. 
 

Events and Surveys

 
Visit the Heart of the South West LEP website for a snapshot of events and surveys coming up in the HotSW area that may be of interest to your business, including Entrepreneurs Exchange, Enterprise Europe Network events, Somerset Chamber of Commerce/UKTI Exporting is Great and a government survey asking for views on how cutting red-tape can work better for the needs of businesses.

 
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