Local Growth Deals

Government has agreed a series of Growth Deals, announcing £6 billion of funding for local governments designed to boost local economies – “a first step towards the greater localism of skills policy” in England that has been advocated by NIACE in its recent manifesto Skills for Prosperity: Building Sustainable Recovery for All. Lord Heseltine hailed the investment in new homes, transport and training as giant step in the rebalancing of our economy. David Cameron declared an “historic day” for the West Country as he pledged £600 million of this for the region. Regional spending on regeneration alone could reach almost £500 million, according to the Western Morning News. A preliminary summary of Local Growth Deals in the South West reveals that over 54,000 jobs to be are expected to be created in the region.

The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has secured a total investment package worth £270 million. The LEP has agreed a deal which includes £130.3 million to support economic growth in Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay. The deal will unlock further investment of £140m from the private sector and local partners, create up to 14,000 jobs and generate up to £150m in public and private investment in innovation centres and science parks in Exeter, Plymouth and Bridgwater. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said this was valuable support to deliver changes that can benefit everyone, “this could be anything from helping young people find work, getting businesses the support they need to thrive, giving commuters better access to road and rail networks or simply giving everyone the chance to get on-line faster”, he said.

£86 million was awarded to the West of England LEP specifically to boost economic growth, create jobs and deliver a total of £400 million of investment. The funding will help create up to 5,000 jobs, and generate up to £180m in public and private investment including the Robotics Institute of Technology and a raft of new or modernised and extended colleges that will provide a much-needed boost to skills and training. These colleges are intended to ensure local people have access to the skills they need for future jobs in nuclear, advanced engineering, creative, high tech and other key growing industries in the area.

£62.5 million will be invested in Gloucestershire to create up to 5,000 jobs and generate up to £80m in private investment, including a ‘growth hub’ providing skills support to businesses in key sectors. This deal is part of a wider Strategic Economic Plan that is intended to generate 34,000 jobs. Prime Minister David Cameron wrote that a new training centre will provide teaching for science, technology, engineering and maths. “There will be hundreds more apprenticeships and hundreds more young people getting that all-important qualification”, he said. £2 million of funding is intended to ensure delivery of world-class STEM facilities in locations across Gloucestershire, £1.15 million will improve access to the Berkeley site for the GREEN project, the LEP is to be directly involved in agenda setting for Skills Funding Agency activity and local employer priorities are to be reflected in National Careers Service activity through the LEP. The new Growth Hub is a partnership between the University of Gloucestershire and GFirst LEP to try to help businesses achieve their potential, delivering services in locations across the county. Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts said: “I have seen first-hand how their work is having a tangible impact on the local economy.” The deal will also kick-start the Gloucestershire centre of excellence in Renewable Energy, Engineering & Nuclear skills project at the decommissioned Berkeley power station site. This project is a partnership between GFirst LEP and South Gloucestershire and Stroud College.

The Dorset LEP has agreed a deal worth £66.3 million to create up to 25,000 jobs, and generate up to £530m in public and private investment, including a new research centre of excellence in orthopaedics. The Swindon and Wiltshire LEP will receive £129 million, which is expected to create up to 1,500 jobs and generate up to £70m in public and private investment, including a new science park at Porton Down. The Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly LEP secured £198 million towards their economic development priorities, to help create up to 4,000 jobs and generate up to £150m in public and private investment. The Solent LEP has also welcomed £124.8 million towards delivering their Strategic Economic Plan.

£2 billion will support college projects, Martin Doel, Chief Executive at the Association of Colleges, said: “Colleges will need to move quickly to get projects underway in 2015-16. Many of the plans involve colleges investing their own funds to match those from Government and it will be really important to confirm the longer term funding arrangements and sort out some of the technical issues about the flow of funds.”