The West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership have welcomed Monday’s UK Industrial Strategy, particularly the emphasis on devolution and the role of regional mayors in delivering economic growth.
West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “Our region is perfectly positioned to develop and deliver a regional industrial strategy; we’re already engaging with business and other stakeholders to develop a strategy that delivers inclusive growth for all.
“The Industrial Strategy clearly recognises the importance of places and prosperous communities. In the West of England we know our businesses, key sectors, the skills that are needed, and the challenges we face in terms of infrastructure. We are the right place to make the decisions.”
“We are already thinking about how we address the ‘grand challenges’ identified in the Industrial Strategy. We are developing an energy strategy, which will maximise the advantages of a shift towards clean growth, and a digital strategy, which will ensure that our region remains at the forefront of the artificial intelligence and data revolution.”
Professor Steve West, Chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This is a great opportunity for us to secure the region’s continuing and ambitious economic success. Businesses and universities are at the heart of developing our regional industrial strategy – we need to continue to lead in innovation and remain a region where businesses want to start up and grow.
“The Industrial Strategy includes increased support for the construction, artificial intelligence, and automotive sectors and acknowledges that a creative sector deal is in advanced discussion. These are all sectors that are vibrant in the West of England and important to our economy. I was also pleased to see confirmation of continued commitment to funding for Growth Hubs, which play a vital role in supporting businesses.”
The West of England’s draft strategy has three principal areas of focus that are clearly in line with the five foundations of productivity in the government’s Industrial Strategy:
- Businesses that succeed
- World class skills for employment
- Infrastructure fit for the future
Notes to editors:
Engagement on the draft West of England strategy was carried out over the summer, and included round tables, one to one discussions, drop in sessions and an online survey (open for 9 weeks, from 27 July to 27 September).
The strategy reached some 15,000 people and organisations using various channels. 300 online surveys were completed and feedback was gathered from seven round-tables and six drop-in sessions from our conversations with stakeholders.
Overall, 85% either Strongly Agreed or Agreed with the principal areas of focus.
Key themes include:
- Inclusive Growth and skills development – Inclusive growth was frequently mentioned including the need for affordable housing, as well as skills and jobs for all, not just the high tech sector. Skills and education were mentioned in almost 44% of the responses.
- The Creative Sector and Visitor Economy are identified as critical for success of the region’s growth ambitions. The Visitor Economy was also noted to be inextricably interconnected with the three main areas of the WECA Strategy business, skills and infrastructure.
- Clean growth – The importance of our region’s growth in the context of meeting our carbon targets was raised by a number of respondents.
We will continue to develop our strategy, taking into account the feedback we’re received, working with central Government colleagues to ensure it aligns with the Industrial Strategy.
More details on the UK Industrial Strategy White Paper can be found here.