Local Enterprise Partnerships have been tasked by the UK Government to develop Local Industrial Strategies to help create more prosperous communities and tackle the vast regional and local disparities that exist across the UK.
Improving productivity performance and achieving more inclusive growth are the overarching challenges – and the challenges presented to all Local Enterprise Partnerships through the Government's Industrial Strategy.
Our draft Local Industrial Strategy for Hertfordshire (LIS) has brought together a strong, well-informed evidence base about our area’s economy and outlines a long-term set of priorities that capitalise on existing opportunities and addresses our area's needs.
The draft Local Industrial Strategy went out to public consultation from 9th September to 14th October 2019. The feedback received will be used to refine the draft strategy, as we enter the co-design process with Government. The final strategy will be published in early 2020. Throughout this process we will continue to deepen our understanding of the Hertfordshire economy and engage widely with stakeholders.
The Hertfordshire Story
The Story So Far...
Work has been underway to develop Hertfordshire’s Local Industrial Strategy since the White Paper was published. It has included:
- wide-ranging discussions and debates about the nature of Hertfordshire’s economy with over 150 stakeholders at the LEP’s Annual Conference and AGM in March 2018 and with a further 150 at a special State of the Economy conference in November 2018;
- “deep dives” into aspects of Hertfordshire’s economy which have focused on place; these have considered very different kinds of places – initially, Letchworth Garden City in the north of the county and Broxbourne in the south east (and noting that more discussions of this nature are planned elsewhere in the county);
- a series of working meetings with key partners, notably University of Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire County Council and the newly formed Hertfordshire Growth Board to ensure the LIS fits in with the wider growth proposition for Hertfordshire;
- a survey of over 450 businesses which was conducted by the University of Hertfordshire’s Business School and focused on issues relating to productivity in Hertfordshire;
- the commissioning of bespoke thematic evidence gathering, including major enquiries into the loss of employment land across Hertfordshire and the nature of the productivity challenge;
- a series of discussion panels with neighbouring LEPs on cross border issues such as transport and sector support, and to support the emerging work of LEPs across the Greater South East region in recognising their importance to UK plc; and
- a public awareness campaign promoted across multiple media channels to tell the Hertfordshire “story” to maximise engagement and provoke discussion/debate throughout its development.
- A study of Hertfordshire’s social enterprise sector is nearing completion and will feed into our final LIS. Further work is also planned – most immediately an investigation into opportunities for the growth of the creative industries, and a round-table event with businesses and stakeholders in St Albans.
Why is this important?
A thorough understanding of local economies (their strengths, weakness and spatial distribution) will inform local and national decision making in the future. Here in Hertfordshire a lot of the groundwork has been done already with our Strategic Economic Plan, which was refreshed in 2017 and is economically sound.
Our Local Industrial Strategy builds on the priorities set out in our SEP, with a focus on how we can boost productivity and drive inclusive growth. Hertfordshire's strategy will be an integral part of the wider growth plan and positions the LEP as key drivers of it.
It will also be used to inform choices at local and national levels. It is not a bidding document. There is no new funding directly attached to the Local Industrial Strategy; in order for it to be agreed with Government it should be achievable within funding streams that already exist.
However, Local Industrial Strategies will help to inform how existing funds such as the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and future place-based funds are allocated, along with a wide range of other local and national funding streams as set out across the Industrial Strategy. This may include the Strength in Places Fund, Transforming Cities Fund, Cultural Development Fund and others.
Stakeholder engagement and consultation
Collaboration is key. We have worked with a wide range of partners, including corporates, universities, think tanks and economists, business representative organisations, the not-for-profit sector, local authority leaders and central Government officials to develop the evidence base and help shape our priorities.
This engagement process is ongoing and has included a series of place-based and sector-focused roundtables, larger business forums, debates and regional workshops with neighbouring LEP areas, and countywide conferences.