Plan for productivity launched

A plan to put Somerset at the heart of the nation’s industrial strategy has been launched today.

The Productivity Plan aims to make sure the Heart of the South West area makes a significant contribution to the UK’s future productivity growth – with all the improvements to living standards and economic benefits that come with that.

It has been put together by the Devolution Partnership made up of the Heart of the South West’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and 20 local authority’s across Somerset and Devon, including Somerset County Council and the five Somerset district councils.

Its launch comes a week after the start of a government consultation called “Building our Industrial Strategy” which aims to increase productivity and drive growth across the whole country.

At this stage the Devolution Partnership is seeking views from interested groups and the public on whether it is considering the right challenges. A final plan will be launched in the autumn with further opportunities to feedback.

Heart of the South West Devolution lead and Leader of Somerset County Council, John Osman, said: “This is an opportunity to put this region at heart of the Government’s economic strategy. With the right investment and strategic lead from the Devolution Partnership, we believe it has the potential to become an internationally important business location.

“This is the first stage of an important process in which public and private sector partners are working together to shape the economic prosperity of our area.”

The national strategy includes themes linking directly to the Heart of the South West plan, including helping young people to develop the skills they need to do the high-paid, high-skilled jobs of the future.

This is central to the national industrial strategy and to the local aim to deliver rewarding careers, investing in science, research and innovation and highlighting the nuclear industry for a sector deal.

Despite success in increasing employment, the LEP area ranks towards the lower end of productivity levels. Productivity also varies greatly across the area. Lower productivity means it takes longer to produce the same goods and services this translates to lower wages and longer hours worked.

The Productivity Plan will sets out how the partnership intends to address this challenge and will be its contribution to the UK’s Industrial Strategy. It will form the basis of negotiations with Government for investment and devolved powers and will act as a focal point to consolidate local resources.

Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, Steve Hindley said: “The Heart of the South West LEP is working closely with our Local Authority-led Devolution partners to create a Productivity Plan that aligns with government strategy to leverage the maximum investment of resources and confidence in this area.

“We want to build a meaningful picture of what our business community wants to see from a Productivity Plan for this area, putting in place the measures that will deliver growth and prosperity for businesses and residents.”

The plan can be found online here http://www.torbay.gov.uk/devolution and responses should be submitted by 10 March 2017.

The Devolution Partnership is made up of the following councils and organisations: Heart of the South West LE, 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 and Dartmoor National Park, and three Clinical Commissioning Groups – Northern, Eastern and Western Devon; Somerset; and Torbay and South Devon.