Monday, September 25, 2017

News: SCR's new economic growth strategy focuses on inclusion

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A new strategy has been drafted for ensuring that the continued economic growth across the Sheffield city region benefits the whole of the population.

Outlined recently by the SCR Local Enterprise Partnership, the main focus of the Inclusive Industrial Strategy is generating wealth and jobs. It has the aim of creating a 21st Century Making City Region.

Whilst the number of jobs has increased along with the GVA (the increase in the value of the economy due to the production of goods and services), inequality has remained high and significant parts of the population have not benefited from economic growth.

The LEP reported that 16,000 new jobs had been brought to the economy in the last three years and the SCR's private sector added some £1.34 billion in GVA between 2013 and 2015. However, it was estimated that the city region's GVA has to increase by £3 billion just to reach the national average (excluding London) and GVA per head in SCR is only £16,786, suggesting low productivity.

The draft strategy outlines that: "Our objective will be to accelerate growth whilst ensuring this creates more and better jobs, providing opportunities for people from communities throughout the City Region where intergenerational unemployment and deprivation remain pressing challenges. However, for growth to be inclusive we first need to generate wealth and jobs. As such the focus of industrial policy should be to tackle the issues making places less productive and build on their underlying capabilities.

"Inclusive growth is integral to our Industrial Strategy approach as social and spatial disparities can act as a drag on productivity and future growth prospects and create wider social costs. So, by making growth inclusive we can release latent potential in the labour market to generate wealth but also help improve life chances and reduce the demand on public services and spending. However, there is also growing evidence that productivity gaps in the economy have contributed to widening wage disparities over the past two or three decades. So, inclusive growth and productivity are two sides of the same coin."

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The strategy looks at businesses support and new technologies, building upon existing assets such as the Rotherham and Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District. It also sets out a plan to identify companies with significant growth potential and offer them further support. There will also be an additional drive to improve the city region's international brand and reputation.

Creating places where people want to live, work and play is also a key priority. The strategy sets out a vision for achieving this by developing plans that focus upon the city region’s urban areas, as well as the seven “growth” areas. Using Government finance to support housebuilding will be key to delivering on this.

The priority for skills will be to close the city region's skills deficit, in order to drive higher growth and productivity. This would be done by means such as study programmes, apprenticeships or work placements.

The final priority outlined in the report is transport. From moving around the city region itself, through a fully-integrated public transport system, to improving links across the North, the UK and internationally through Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

Sir Nigel Knowles, chairman of the LEP, said: "Supporting people and businesses across the Sheffield City Region to thrive has consistently been at the core of our thinking and action.

"But we want to go further, unlocking the potential to grow faster. That's why this Inclusive Industrial Strategy has been written, in order to enable us to invest and deliver in a new way, looking at how we can best help those marginalised groups and places.

"The strategy is about crucial elements for economic growth such as job creation, building new homes and enabling businesses to thrive.

"While we are incredibly proud of what we're doing already – indeed, we've seen the first private sector growth in a generation – we want to go beyond this and ensure that all our diverse communities across the city region benefit from economic growth."

The Inclusive Industrial Strategy will go out to consultation before a final version is formally considered by the LEP before the end of the year.

SCR LEP website

Images: SCR LEP


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