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Economic Strategies and Plans

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Economic Strategies and Plans

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Economic Strategies and Plans

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Economic Strategies and Plans

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Economic Strategies and Plans

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Economic Strategies and Plans

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Economic Recovery Strategy

This Economic Recovery document brings together in one place the various actions that SEMLEP and its local partners have taken, are taking and will take in future, to help the South East Midlands to recover from the impacts of the COVID pandemic, and to grow and prosper over the longer term.

Our actions are informed by key economic data and evidence including forecasts gathered by consultancy firm Lichfields and our economic analyst team. These are set out against five themes: ideas, people, infrastructure, business environment and place.

Download the Economic Recovery Strategy

The South East Midlands is one of the most innovative parts of the country, and is at the forefront of cutting-edge developments in the future of mobility and clean growth, as well as the intersection between these. It is leading the way on low carbon flight and use of hydrogen in freight vehicles, on connected and autonomous vehicles, electric vehicle infrastructure and innovative last-mile delivery. It also has a central role to play in the future success of the Oxford to Cambridge Arc, with space and expertise to test and commercialise innovations in a variety of transformational sectors, including future energy and life sciences.

The current challenge is to ensure that R&D investment and the innovative nature of local businesses do not become casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Government analysis suggests that R&D investment has a strong multiplier effect and, through joint working between SEMLEP and local and wider Arc partners, including the Arc Universities group, this area of the country can play a critical role in realising such multiplier effects to support national recovery. Immediate recovery activity will thus focus upon linking partners up, promoting local assets and excellence for inward investment purposes, and ensuring successful delivery of Getting Building Fund projects.

Survive

  1. Promote innovative responses by local businesses to the COVID pandemic, including rapid production of PPE and joint work to develop ventilators
  2. Embed new digital and agile ways of working, within SEMLEP and in partnership with local stakeholders, to effectively provide a joint response to the crisis

Stabilise

  1. Promote the Arc's innovation and commercialisation strengths, and the South East Midlands' central role within this, through inward investment communications and activity
  2. Work with local authorities and the Arc Universities Group to support and promote both new and existing R&D assets and expertise within the SEMLEP area
  3. Strengthen the linkages between existing business networks, innovation centres, groups and sectors within the SEMLEP area
  4. Engage with innovative businesses across the SEMLEP area to understand their needs and help them to access funding and support through SEMLEP’s Growth Hub and elsewhere
  5. Ensure delivery of Government's Getting Building Fund opportunity towards January 2022 completion, which includes a variety of innovation themed projects.
  6. Undertake an Expression of Interest exercise in late 2020/early 2021 to build a pipeline of potential future projects
  7. Make use of the ideas and expertise of the SEMLEP Ambassadors to inform local strategy and delivery

Grow

  1. Continue to be at the forefront of the Clean Growth Grand Challenge, with a focus on low-carbon aviation; low-carbon logistics, sustainable food and drink production, and renewable energy technologies
  2. Continue to be at the forefront of the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge, supporting locally-led development of facilities and testbeds to pilot solutions and linking these to wider residential and commercial growth
  3. Work with local partners to expand the innovation capabilities, sustainability and productivity of the local logistics and manufacturing sectors
  4. Support transformative green growth across the Arc, including in the above sectors and others such as space and the creative sectors, and future energy more broadly
  5. Support Arc innovation in life sciences to build up local  - and national - resilience to future public health crises

The South East Midlands has enjoyed considerable success in recent years in bringing local partners together to share labour market information and in generating and inspiring a pipeline of people to acquire the skills that local businesses need, both now and in the future. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact upon the local labour market, with some job losses already realised, and more predicted to follow. In response to this, SEMLEP and local partners have been working together to assess which sectors and groups are being disproportionately impacted, and signposting individuals and employers to relevant support, pathways and career opportunities.

This work will continue over the coming months, led by the Skills Advisory Panel, with heightened focus on support for those being made redundant and those who are unemployed following education. Community Grants and other sources of funding will also be used to support those facing barriers to work, in conjunction with VCSE and other partners. Focus is being maintained on the longer-term skills pipeline, making sure people have the skills – including core competencies, attitudes, behaviours, STEM and digital skills – to drive sustainable growth in the South East Midlands and wider Arc.

Survive

  1. Create Employment and Skills COVID19 Response Working Group, including local and national key stakeholders
  2. Identify cohorts and needs for employment and skills support, and opportunities for employment within occupational groups
  3. Collate employment and skills support provision
  4. Promote, and signpost to, employment and skills support provision

Stabilise

  1. Focus on support for those made/ being made redundant, through signposting, information provision and promotion of available pathways
  2. Focus on support for those unemployed from education, through signposting, information provision and promotion of available pathways
  3. Use of Community Grants and other sources of funding to support those facing barriers to work,  in conjunction with VCSE and other partners
  4. Provide live labour market information to stakeholders and individuals, both within education and in the wider population, to highlight occupational groups with need/demand

Grow

  1. Leverage current and future local and national projects and funding related to employment, skills and the economy
  2. Provide easily accessible labour market information for use by individuals, employers and educators
  3. Provide coordination of provision and support of local and national stakeholders
  4. Build a talent pipeline in line with employer needs, through regularly updated and accessible labour market information, relevant high impact careers provision (including STEM and digital) and employer engagement
  5. Build a talent pipeline in line with employer needs, through informing education providers to shape curriculum and provision, including core competencies, attitudes and behaviours
  6. Promote employer engagement with local FE colleges as hubs for technical and vocational education, for Levels 3-5
  7. Promote local HE establishments for Levels 6-8
  8. Strengthen inclusivity and diversity in the workforce, through relevant role models and tailored support
  9. Support upskilling and reskilling, by raising awareness of provision, promoting apprenticeships and supporting businesses to engage
  10. Promote entry pathways into occupational groups of need for all ages

As recognised in the South East Midlands Local Industrial Strategy, local infrastructure is critical to both quality of life and the unlocking of future growth. If the area is to successfully transition to net zero, while also continuing to grow, action needs to be taken to plan for, and put in place, the requisite energy and transport infrastructure. Local partners, including SEMLEP, local authorities, energy providers and the Greater South East Energy Hub, are thus working together to identify sustainable trajectories for future growth, promote best practice, support sustainable modes of transport, build green networks, support businesses to become more energy-efficient and implement schemes such as the Public Sector Building Decarbonisation Fund and the Green Homes Grant.

Digital infrastructure is critical to the realisation of a greener future, and also to economic growth and inclusion, as highlighted by the pandemic. SEMLEP and its partners will work together to identify gaps in digital infrastructure and means of addressing them, with a view to establishing full-fibre connectivity across the South East Midlands, including in rural areas. Supporting the development of holistic plans for water infrastructure is also key, to avoid both water scarcity and flooding, and to allow for sustainable development over the longer term.

Survive

  1. Monitor and disseminate mobility data, and other infrastructure related intelligence, during the pandemic
  2. Support delivery of existing Local Growth Fund infrastructure projects

Stabilise

  1. Bring together energy stakeholders in the area to discuss their role and requirements to support the necessary energy provision and zero-carbon transition outlined in SEMLEP’s Energy Strategy, including supporting local authorities to engage with local energy providers on the latter's business plans
  2. Support SMEs to engage in energy-related innovation and to adopt energy-efficient practices, through the dissemination of information and funding opportunities, and increased networking with relevant partners
  3. Identify, support, disseminate best practice from, and promote energy ‘beacon projects’ in line with SEMLEP’s Energy Strategy
  4. Work with the Energy Hub and local authority colleagues to support the delivery of various energy efficiency programmes, including the Public Sector Building Decarbonisation fund, Social Housing Decarbonisation innovation demonstrator, and the Green Homes Grant
  5. Identify digital cold spots and bring together partners to identify possible ways to address them
  6. Support travel to work infrastructure, including micro-mobility solutions

Grow

  1. Promote sustainability and a transition to net zero through SEMLEP's direct delivery and through working with partners and promoting best practice
  2. Work with local authorities and other local partners to support the development of sustainable strategic transport links, greater first-mile last-mile connectivity, and increased low emissions vehicle infrastructure within the SEMLEP area
  3. Work with local authorities and other local partners to support full-fibre connectivity and 5G in the SEMLEP area
  4. Work with organisations involved in managing flood risk and water scarcity to develop plans for water infrastructure

The changes to the business environment wrought by the pandemic have been severe, and the first half of 2020 saw SEMLEP’s Growth Hub and local authority partners focusing upon enabling businesses to survive, by sharing intelligence and supporting businesses to apply for, and receive funding from, government support schemes. As the situation has begun to stabilise, the focus has shifted to enabling businesses to adapt and diversify within the new conditions. This is through hosting webinars on pandemic related issues, launching peer-to-peer support groups and through the Growth Curve project, which supports scale-up and pre-scale-up businesses. 

Moving forward, this focus on scale-up activity and diversification will continue alongside support to navigate the EU exit process and promote exporting. Work will continue to promote inward investment, by preparing relevant materials to encourage such investment, and by working in partnership with local authorities, developers and commercial agents to help match prospective businesses with appropriate employment land. It will be necessary to assess pandemic induced structural changes to the commercial property market, and to work with partners to ensure the area has an extensive and balanced pipeline of employment land and premises, which meets the need of local businesses, both now and in the future.

Survive

  1. Establish COVID19 recovery hub on the website
  2. Signpost businesses to, and support them in applying for, relevant government schemes
  3. Signpost businesses to other forms of funding and wider support
  4. Collate business intelligence and real-time evidence of impact, to inform government schemes and local policy
  5. Hold webinars focused on overcoming specific COVID-related issues, in partnership with specialists
  6. Implement second wave support in the event that our region or parts of our region go into more stringent lockdown measures

Stabilise

  1. Launch of Peer to Peer groups to help businesses to plan for recovery and success
  2. Growth Curve: support scale-up and pre-scale-up businesses with navigating the crisis one-to-ones, masterclasses and recovery grant support
  3. Award Kickstarting Tourism revenue grants; and SME Recovery and Resilience capital grants
  4. Prepare businesses for EU Exit and the end of the transition period, including through a series of EU Exit webinars and Grant Thornton toolkit sessions with businesses and launching our get 2021 ready campaign
  5. Work with DIT and other local partners through SEMLEP’s Growth Hub to continue to actively attract inward investment and support further exporting
  6. Embed equality, diversity and inclusion reporting where possible in Growth Hub processes
  7. Prioritise support and job creation activity towards sectors and places disproportionately impacted by the pandemic

Grow

  1. Continue to promote and provide, through SEMLEP’s Growth Hub, a single access point for business support in the SEMLEP area
  2. Provide support for start-up and scale-up activity
  3. Work with partners to support an extensive and balanced pipeline of employment land and premises in the area, which takes account of any pandemic-induced structural changes to the property market
  4. Increase promotion of the SEMLEP area to prospective investors, including through the preparation of relevant materials to encourage inward investment, and by working in partnership with local authorities, developers and commercial agents to help match prospective businesses with appropriate employment land

The COVID pandemic has placed a renewed focus upon the importance of community, nature and local places, and SEMLEP and its partners are keen to utilise this as a force for positive change, to support the health and well-being of the local population. In the near term, the priority is to support those places and groups which have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and to ensure that – through Community Grants, support for cultural and creative activity and funds including Getting Building Fund, Towns Funds and any future funding streams – economic recovery is inclusive and local places are strengthened. Work will also take place in conjunction with the area’s Local Nature Partnerships and those leading on local developments to support and protect natural capital, in line with the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan to realise net gains in biodiversity.

Looking ahead, there is a desire to ensure that local places can be sustainable over the long term and, to this end, the South East Midlands aims to be a pioneer of ‘Settlements of the Future’ concepts. These include: smarter, greener energy systems and infrastructure; new spatial approaches to living and working, which support community engagement and incorporate Sport England’s Active Design principles; modern methods of construction, including adaptability for the needs of an ageing population; and advanced digital technologies.

Survive

  1. Work jointly with local authorities and other local partners to identify localised COVID impacts
  2. Collation of business intelligence and real-time evidence of impact, to inform government schemes and local policy

Stabilise

  1. Prioritise support towards sectors, population groups and places disproportionately impacted by COVID
  2. Strengthen engagement with those that have been disproportionately impacted, making use of VCSE networks to reach a broad range of communities
  3. Embed equality, diversity and inclusion in our core business and seek to ensure challenge to current practices to engage and deliver with more communities
  4. Continued Community Grants activity to help build more inclusive places
  5. Ensure delivery of Government's Getting Building Fund opportunity towards January 2022 completion
  6. Ensure continued delivery of Local Growth Fund projects, to support economic activity and place-building across the South East Midlands
  7. Support specific places within the SEMLEP area to use the Towns Funds to achieve local aims
  8. Work with partners to understand how the impact of COVID might affect Town Centres and look to respond accordingly

Grow

  1. Work with local partners to pilot ‘Settlements of the Future’ concepts, including: smarter, greener energy systems and infrastructure; new spatial approaches to living and working, which support community engagement and incorporate Sport England’s Active Design principles; modern methods of construction, including adaptability for the needs of an ageing population; and advanced digital technologies.
  2. Work with the area’s Local Nature Partnerships and those leading on local developments to support and protect natural capital, in line with the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan to realise net gains in biodiversity. 
  3. Support cultural activity and other initiatives to bring people closer to, and into, the labour market, and to regenerate relatively deprived areas
  4. Improve connectivity in rural areas, in both digital and transport terms, and develop the rural visitor economy, building on proposals such as the Bedford to Milton Keynes Waterway Project.
  5. Build on the existing and newly established community activity and networks to strengthen communities and future resilience

 Lichfields Economic Recovery Scenarios for SEMLEP

Lichfields Economic Recovery Scenarios for SEMLEP

These forecasts form the basis of planning our approach to recovery, informing the prioiritations of sectors and places requiring enhanced short-term support. 

View the report

COVID-19 impact data

View the data on local economic impact. 

This economic data is a working document and is updated regularly.
A new version will be uploaded weekly.

Last updated 17/09/2021.

View the data

COVID-19 in-house evidence summary

COVID-19 Support Services

SEMLEP's Growth Hub offers businesses 
free support, advice and guidance.

Find out more

Learn a new skill or develop your knowledge
using online courses available in the area.

Find out more

Get the latest information on business support from the UK Government. 

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