DIRECTORS BRIEFING February 2013
- Chamber developing a paper on how a Chamber led business support programme would look (copy attached for comment)
- An evident need to improve business engagement across the patch particularly in terms of engaging businesses into the LEP and the Growth Accelerator programmes
- A need to quickly facilitate constructive cross LEP dialogue particularly around GBSLEP benefits to Staffordshire
- Southern Staffordshire Manufacturing Group being set up
- Winning Moves to enhance the Staffordshire Business Support Helpline with new web portal to cover national and local support
Skills: Our Employment and Skills Board met earlier this month and agreed the following projects to be funded via our City Skills local working budget which would be funded via the £12,000 allocation through to March 2014
- local awareness raising events to support Apprenticeship week which is in March
- targeted support for Young Enterprise recognising that across the Southern Staffordshire area there is poor participation in certain localities
- Apprenticeship Ambassador or Brokers to provide a bespoke service to undertake whatever steps are necessary to secure an apprentice or apprentices for the company concerned by acting as their agent and representing them in the ongoing relationship with their training provider and other agencies
We also met with representatives of Derby University as part of the consultation on the City Skills Plan and have made a number of comments in response to consultation questions. Karen Mercer – West has taken on the role of Chairing the local Board and will be our representative on the main GBSLEP Employment and Skills Board. We also have good links across to the Staffordshire Education Trust with both Mike Askew (Staffordshire Providers Association) and Councillor Grosvenor (East Staffordshire Borough Council) sitting on both the local ESB and the Education Trust. In addition we have an ESB member on each of the 3 sub groups of the Trust
The continued attendance of the County Council and the Skills Funding Agency at our local ESB is very welcome, and the group reiterated the need to focus on just a handful of small but deliverable interventions; to ensure synergy between the activities of the 2 LEPs; to focus on significantly improving the level of business engagement; and to act as a mechanism for sharing information and intelligence.
We have since discussed the idea of an Apprenticeship Hub and Apprenticeship Pledge with John Myers at the National Apprenticeship Service – his views are being fed into the consultation and he will be doing a formal presentation at our next ESB in April.
A second ‘cross LEP’ skills meeting (SSLEP/GBSLEP) will take place in April to ensure that on skills there is joined up working for the benefit of southern Staffordshire.
Business Support: We recently hosted a meeting with Colin Bell (Director at Winning Moves) who manage the Staffordshire delivery of the national Growth Accelerator programme, and also now run the SSLEP Business Support Hotline. A number of key points from the discussions:
- Growth Accelerator target of business assisted has been exceeded and contract now extended – however the balance of businesses involved have been in north Staffordshire reflecting the previous working relationships the programme manager had with partners and businesses in the area but a second manager is being recruited (details via www.winningmoves.com/work-with-us ) who will focus on the south of the County)
- Figures for January for the Business Support helpline reflect the earlier challenge of low overall take up generally and particular low uptake in southern Staffordshire ( 58 in total of which there was 1 on Cannock, I in South Staffs, 4 in Tamworth, 1 Lichfield and 7 in East Staffordshire (report attached)
- Useful opportunity to discuss our concerns about the previously run scheme and there is a commitment from Winning Moves to work more closely with partners to promote the service better in the south of the County
- Partners are being approached to confirm that content inherited from the Chamber run scheme remains relevant. Importantly a customer facing portal has been developed combining local, regional and national content. This is something that is now available locally via www.winning.com and Winning Moves will look to franchise this as part of a business support package nationally to other LEPs
- The appointment of Winning Moves can be welcomed given their track record on business support activity and there commitment to work with local partners. North Staffs Chamber who ran the pilot helpline have acknowledged that one of the reasons that they didn’t get the contract to run the main scheme was there lack of knowledge and relationships with the south of the County
I had a recent meeting with North Staffs Chamber to discuss their proposed Job Growth Programme – they have secured £8m of Regional Growth Fund to run this programme across all of the SSLEP area. We discussed the linkages with the GBSLEP BDP programme, methods of promoting it in the south of the County, the eligible uses for the grant, and the likely application process. In summary the scheme will:
- Be focused on businesses looking to expand providing support for new premises, land etc
- Provide grants of between £25k and £999k at an intervention rate of 20% (designed to support companies whose project did not carry over the £1m RGF intervention rate
- Likely to come on stream from April and run to the end of 2015
The Chamber has already been in discussion with 5 companies who have been identified by their mentor team, two of whom are based in southern Staffordshire. We will ensure full details are circulated to partners once the sign off on RGF has been secured
The GBSLEP ERDF funded Business Development Programme has a programme of monthly Panel meetings involving partners to make decisions on the distribution of the grants. Each District is promoting this to their local businesses and a number of successful grant applications have already been made.
Birmingham Chamber Group – Business Support and engagement: The Chamber have been working up a proposal on how they could coordinate a business support infrastructure. This would be based on 4 key principles – proactive to target growth potential; universal across all business sectors; affordable; sustainable; and would have 4 elements signposting; growth promotion advice; developing self sustaining peer to peer networks; management of strategic programmes. A draft outline of the proposal is attached for comment, and the aim is to have a final paper to submit alongside the GBSLEP Board response (Greater Birmingham Project) to the Heseltine Review. I will be meeting David Draycott at the Chamber on 4th March so I would ask for any comments on the paper back by the Friday 1st March.
Greater Birmingham Project: This is the pilot piece of work by GBSLEP that will show a LEP response to the recent Heseltine Review publication which identified no less than 89 recommendations to help facilitate economic growth. This represents a real opportunity to getdevolved powers and also have access to potentially £1 billion worth of funds and extra powers from Whitehall. Eight work streams have been set up covering the core areas in the Review document and these are led by a Board Champion, with a supporting officer, and a small core team. Colleagues from southern Staffordshire are directly involved in some of these and are also part of a wider stakeholder consultation group. A draft report outlining the proposed responses will go to the March GBSLEP Board meeting and a final report will help inform any announcements in this years Budget. There will be responses to all 89 recommendations though some of these will be to either support /comment on the principle (those for Whitehall) or to acknowledge the question but to advise against need to change (local government reorganisation). We understood that BIS/CLG/Treasury are doing there own work (hopefully to the same timetable) on the recommendations focused on Whitehall but this is linked with the GBS work through a small team of Whitehall civil servants working as part of the GB Project team.
Economic Strategies: A further meeting of Staffordshire EDOs takes place on the 28th February to finalise a draft Staffordshire Economic Strategy, which will then be discussed at a special Economic Consortium meeting on the 6th March. A few issues still to be addressed to make this a meaningful strategy but hopefully these will be sorted on the 28th. We will do a short SWOT analysis, a commentary on the role Councils have in regeneration in its broadest sense, and a commentary on how Councils can support LEP growth strategies. The focus of the Workshop will look at 5 key themes of business support, inward investment, innovation, quality of life, and skills.Matthew Shufflebotham at the County Council has done some useful analysis of key sectors which will help further focus our thinking.
There was an update on the progress with the GBSLEP Strategy for Growth. There has been a focus recently on a number of areas that had been highlighted as needing more work. The following – a greater sense of place, the uniqueness of this LEP, a clearer sense of vision / ambition, and a greater explanation of resources available had all been identified in our response to the consultation and are the subject of further work. The 6 key priorities of
- Improving Business Support
- Building on sector strengths and opportunities
- Optimising research design and innovation
- Improving our skills talent pool
- Improving road, rail, air and digital connectivity
- Optimising the economic value of our physical assets
are now being taking forward by the respective sub groups of the LEP and tasks include the development of robust KPIs, a narrative for the proposed high-level activity to support the priority, development of outline content for delivery plans, including identification where appropriate of potential delivery partners. The creation of Evidence Base and Consultation Document will start in March and the Board are being asked to sign of the draft strategy at their March meeting
Enterprise Gardening: Economic gardening connects entrepreneurs to resources, encouraging the development of essential infrastructure and providing entrepreneurs with needed information. We did see this as a way we could at the local level make a contribution to the growth agenda recognising the extent to which the LEPs were largely involved in a number of big scale activities (Regional Growth Fund, Growing Places Fund, City Deals, Enterprise Zones etc). A paper outlining how the concept works was discussed at the Executive Board and it was agreed that Delivery Board be tasked with the first part of the work programme, namely to develop an inventory of community and business based assets that are available to us. This was discussed with Colin Bell (Winning Moves) at the meeting who has some experience of the concept, and has since been discussed with Rob Calder (who led an enterprise facilitation programme in Rossendale and is currently doing the interim evaluation of the Blenau Gwent Borough Council Enterprise Facilitation project which has been underway for the past 18 months – based on the principles of the Sirolli Institute – another advocate of economic gardening which promotes the argument “the future of every community lies in capturing the talent imagination and energy of its people …. Growing the community from within, transforming passionate people into successful entrepreneurs”. The inventory of assets should be completed by the end of March, along with a summary of how the concept could be applied to southern Staffordshire.
Enterprise Belt: A list of 37 potential development projects with details of the barriers to implementation has been compiled for the GBSLEP. Similar work has been completed within the North Worcestershire, the Solihull and the Birmingham parts of the LEP. Birmingham City Council has also produced a prospectus detailing the projects, setting priorities, and providing a clear narrative for their need and impact. Similar work is underway in Solihull and in North Worcestershire, and it makes sense for the same approach to be adopted in southern Staffordshire. Partners are currently looking at a mechanism for prioritising schemes, and for securing funding for doing the more detailed strategic analysis and impact assessment.
Southern Staffordshire Manufacturing Group: £6000 of funding has been secured from the SSLEP to assist with setting up of the Group and I met with Mike White from Arvada Marketing will be running the group earlier this month. Since he presented his ideas to the SSP Board last year there has been considerable progress and we discussed how the model now being developed could be supported, the role SSP and partners could play, how it could support business engagement in the south of the County, the relationship to the LEP, and which businesses could be early participants. Details of the structure and role will be forwarded shortly and the aim is to have some launch events over the next couple of months.
LEP’s: At the last SSLEP Board meetingthe following points/outcomes can be noted
- A need to engage better with businesses in the south of the County
- Lengthy debate on the economic relevance of HS2 to Staffordshire but focus was on potential of station at Stoke but not in the context of the south of the County being adjacent to Birmingham and the opportunities from a station at Birmingham
- TTW figures for Staffordshire Districts, and the Wall of Influence document to be circulated
- Future funding Plan agreed which will see
- 5 posts to support Peter Davenport – Strategic Programme Manager, Research Assistant, Comms and Events Manager, Education Trust Project Manager, LEP Support Officer
- Match funding from a number of partners including North Staffs Chamber of £35k which will attract a further £35k of LEP funding – this will position North Staffs Chamber to be leading the business engagement work for the whole LEP area (we are in dialogue with the Chamber on this)
- £50,000 for the Trust, and £36,000 for business support, £40,000 for funding and bidding support
- Agreement that the next Board meeting be replaced by an away day to check the Vision and Priorities, review the structure of the Board and sub groups, and agree how the Board will relate to the delivery of the Deal
- Work to start on a Housing and Regeneration Strategy for the SSLEP and Grant Mitchell, Craig Jordan and Bob Phillips will be directly involved.
Following discussions with Peter Davenport and the chair Ron Dougan there will be an agenda item at the April Board meeting to discuss – the benefits coming to Staffordshire from neighbouring LEPs and the District Councils involvement in the GBSLEP. You will recall that following some lobbying of Ron Dougan and Peter Davenport it had been agreed that there will be an item on a future agenda to cover the impact of other LEPs on Staffordshire. The argument we put forward was that there has in the past be some criticisms/concerns about the effect of 4 of the 8 Districts in the County being members of the GBSLEP voiced at the SSLEP Board meetings; and secondly (and connected) there has been little attempt/opportunity to explain the benefits that are coming to Staffordshire from having Districts who are members of the GBSLEP. It was evident from last weeks SSLEP Board that there continues to be criticism of the Districts in the GBSLEP, the most recent relating to the decisions over Local Transport Boards. The various criticisms being put forward do need to be addressed sooner rather than later to ensure that the benefits to Staffordshire are clearly understood and recognised, rather than it being wrongly seen as not of benefit to Staffordshire. I’m meeting with Ron on the 7th March to discuss the content of this presentation, the Southern Staffordshire Manufacturing Group, and business engagement in the south of the County. If there are any issues you want raised please let me know.
The SSLEP Deal Expression of Interest has got over the first hurdle – and all 20 cities that were invited to submit EoI s have been asked to work up their detailed bids. We will continue to be part of the Programme Management Team supporting this process, and a final decision on which of the Deals will be supported by Government will not be known until November.
At the GBSLEP Board In January at which there will be an update on the Strategy for Growth Paper and on the LEPs response to the Heseltine Review. In respect of the latter Lord Heseltine travelled to Birmingham this week to announce the region has a chance to pilot proposals to take on The region now has three months to draw up a business plan to secure funding and increased decision making ability which would be administered by Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). This follows a direct request made by the GBSLEP in December, and is likely to be supported by a small team of civil servants working with the local partners.
At the last GBSLEP Board meeting there was significant discussion on the Greater Birmingham Project and on the Strategy for Growth (both covered elsewhere in this report). There is a recognition that these two important activities are taken forward together and do present conflicting priorities and delivery methods, noting in particular the considerable effort put into the Strategy over the last 6 months. There was also agreement to use the LEP Core funding grant (£250,000 pa for the next 2 years) to fund for 3 LEP executive Officer posts (covering Engagement, Place, and City Deal/Strategy for Growth delivery), and a LEP Support Officer.
21st March Design Review Panel
9th April Employment and Skills Board
10th April Executive Board
17th April Delivery Board
18th April Design Review panel
26th February Employment and Skills Officer Group
27th February Place Group
14th March Board
28th February Staffordshire Economic Strategy – Economic Development Officers
1st March Housing and Regeneration Strategy Group
6th March Staffordshire Economic Strategy – Staffordshire Economic Consortium
14th March Board Away Day
8th April Business Development Group
11th April Board
Southern Staffordshire Partnership
Lichfield WS13 6YY
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