Business, organisations and residents are being asked for their views on plans to drive up productivity in Somerset and across the Heart of the South West area.
All councils in Somerset and Devon, along with the Local Enterprise Partnership, the two National Park Authorities and the three Clinical Commissioning Groups, are working in partnership to deliver a Productivity Strategy for the Heart of the South West (HotSW).
The draft strategy is out for consultation until 30 November, hosted on Torbay Council’s website at www.torbay.gov.uk/devolution . The partnership is seeking the views of businesses, organisations, groups and individuals to help form a robust strategy with a wide consensus from stakeholders across the area.
Productivity is a major factor affecting the UK’s economy and the prosperity of its businesses and residents. It’s a topic that’s been much in the news recently, with the Office on National Statistics recently reporting a further fall in UK productivity of 0.1 per cent in the April to June period.
The HotSW has vibrant cities, an amazing coastline, historic market towns and stunning moorland. It also has a wide diversity of dynamic and innovative businesses and institutions across rural and urban areas. However, our economy is not as strong as it could be and not all share its benefits.
Because of unprecedented opportunities in sectors such as nuclear, marine, rural productivity, health and care, aerospace and advanced engineering, and data analytics, the HotSW area – Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay – has the potential for transformational growth to reverse this trend and make a significant contribution to the UK economy.
The Partnership’s ambition is to double the size of the HotSW economy to £70 billion by 2036 and is seeking the right interventions and Government backing to achieve this.
The Productivity Strategy aims to enable all businesses, from small rural enterprises to multi-national companies to thrive by unlocking natural potential, ensuring people are equipped with the right skills for a changing jobs market, and by improving our digital and transport connectivity. This, in turn, will lead to increased prosperity for our communities.
Councillor David Hall, Deputy Leader of Somerset County Council and Cabinet Member for Economy and Resources, said: “Raising productivity is a national priority and is particularly important for us in this region. We have a lot of untapped potential and this strategy is about working together to bring it to capitalise on it, with all the economic and employment benefits that would bring”.
Councillor Paul Diviani, Deputy Chair of the prospective Joint Committee of the Leaders of the HotSW, said: “The Heart of the South West economy is larger than that of Birmingham, so we need to be recognised for our true potential as a cohesive economic area.
“Our vision is for all parts of the Heart of the South West to become more prosperous, enabling people to have a better quality of life and higher living standards.
“To achieve that, we have to create a more vibrant and competitive economy where the benefits can be shared by everyone, and by working in partnership we can present a stronger proposition. We urge our stakeholders in business and the wider community to give us their views and help us create an effective strategy for delivery.”
The results from the consultation will be considered by the Joint Committee of the Leaders of the Heart of the South West and the Heart of the South West LEP Board, before a final Productivity Strategy is agreed early in 2018.