SELEP welcomes Industrial Strategy

The Government’s announcement of its Industrial Strategy Green Paper has been welcomed by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) for recognising the need to support business and create the right conditions for growth across the area.

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.

The Industrial Strategy builds upon SELEP’s recent Annual Conversation with Government, an appraisal of its work over the last 12 months, and will see LEPs placed at the heart of the Government’s plans to improve the country’s economic performance.

The Government’s new Industrial Strategy will set out plans to drive growth across the whole country and create more high skilled, high paid jobs and opportunities as part of Government’s ‘Plan for Britain’. The Strategy is based upon ten pillars: 1. Investing in science, research and innovation 2. Developing skills 3. Upgrading infrastructure 4. Supporting businesses to start and grow 5. Improving procurement 6. Encouraging trade and inward investment policy 7. Delivering affordable energy and clean growth 8. Cultivating world-leading sectors 9. Driving growth across the whole country 10. Creating the right institutions to bring together sectors and places

Christian Brodie, Chairman of SELEP, said: “As we transition away from the single market and the opportunities this presents for business and the economy, securing a key role for the South East in creating a future competitive, global nation.

“Developing an economy based upon innovation, infrastructure and skills is a vision we share with the Government, and one we will work closely with the relevant departments and our partners to deliver.

“While we recognise the urgent need to improve productivity across the whole of the country we continue to argue the case that in these time of uncertainty, the Government must back the South East as a proven winner.

“This means investing in our area, where our communities share many of the issues facing the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine.”

SELEP is showcasing delivery and progress in a number of areas, to date, SELEP has secured funding for 58 infrastructure projects and work is now under way to help create the right conditions for economic growth, delivering new homes and jobs.

Having unlocked £488m from the Local Growth Fund since 2014, 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 jobs by 2021.

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.

SELEP is looking forward to working with Government to demonstrate how the new priorities of the Industrial Strategy can be delivered across the South East area and will be liaising with local businesses and other partners to submit a comprehensive response to the public consultation on the Strategy. Government’s Industrial Strategy launches today, 23rd January 2017, further details of the consultation are available at: www.gov.uk/beis

Information on the work of SELEP can be found at: www.southeastlep.com

Information and more details of the Industrial Strategy can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/pm-unveils-plans-for-a-modern-industrial-strategy-fit-for-global-britain.