As part of its Annual Conversation with Government, an appraisal of its work over the last 12 months, the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) has shown why it has a strong case for further funding support.
SELEP champions the economic growth of East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock and the area’s 344,500-strong business community. It is the country’s largest LEP in terms of the area it covers, and has a population in excess of 4 million.
Having unlocked £488m from the Local Growth Fund and secured a further £400m from local authorities and the private sector, SELEP remains on target to help deliver 23,000 new homes and create 45,000 new jobs by 2021.
Christian Brodie, Chairman of SELEP, said: “Significant progress has been made and a big thank you must go to all our business representatives, the region’s MPs and our local government partners who are all working to a shared and exciting vision for the area’s future.
“We continue to argue the case that in these time of uncertainty, the Government must back the South East as a proven winner, which means investing in its infrastructure, skills and support for business.
“To date, funding for 58 infrastructure projects has been agreed and work is now under way to help create the right conditions for economic growth. delivering new homes and jobs.”
SELEP has also supported the Government’s ambition to build a million new homes by 2020, with a 57% increase in new house starts and 47% increase in housing completions on previous years. With demand for new homes continuing to outstrip supply, SELEP is backing the proposals for new Garden communities at Ebbsfleet, Shepway and North Essex.
Successful bids by SELEP means that by 2020 it will have invested £161m from the EU’s European Structural and Investment Funds, including £71.6m in skills, education and lifelong learning, and improving access to employment for young people and enhancing social inclusion.
More than £74m will be used to support research and innovation, SME business growth and the low carbon economy. To support rural businesses, rural tourism and food manufacturing, SELEP will be investing £14.5m over the period.
Over the last year, SELEP has helped secure and invest in projects across the area, including £49.3m from the European Structure Fund and a further £22.8m from the European Regional Development Funding.
The Growth Hub, supporting business with advice across the SELEP area, has worked with 1,300 businesses in its first 6 months, and referred 588 businesses to external support providers.
SELEP has also placed enormous importance on improving skills in the area and has invested in new Further Education facilities to support science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), construction, logistics and health care training.
It has also linked 200 schools to the Careers Enterprise Network to provide young people with guidance and mentoring on possible career paths, involving many volunteers from local businesses.
SELEP continues to champion the case for a new Lower Thames Crossing. An announcement is expected shortly by the Department for Transport on the preferred route, as well as a decision on the outcome of SELEP’s bid for £229m to support a further 41 projects from the Government’s £1.8bn Local Growth Fund 3 (LGF3) round of funding.