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 responses will be used to refine the draft strategy, as we enter the co-design process with Government. The final strategy is expected to be published in early 2020.
We will continue to develop our evidence base and will engage further with stakeholders and advance some elements of the Local Industrial Strategy via roundtable discussions. This will carry on outside the timescales of the LIS as we continually improve our understanding and depth of knowledge of the local economy and where best we can intervene to influence future sustainable growth. We will develop key “sub-strategies” which will give elements of the LIS more depth and ensure that we move quickly with regard to implementation. And we will continue our dialogue with Southern LEPs to develop an economic narrative across a wider geography.
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 both place and key sectors. These have considered very different kinds of places – initially, Letchworth Garden City in the north of the county and Broxbourne in the south east, with further round-tables planned in St Albans as well as with the Environment Agency and the creative industries. This is an ongoing process to continually deepen our understanding.
- 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. We are continuing our dialogue with other LEP areas to develop an economic narrative for the South East.
- 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 which will feed into our final LIS.
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.
Our LIS plays a key function in the wider growth proposition being developed by Hertfordshire Growth Board. The LEP and the local authorites have all or are due to sign up to this agreement to ensure that we speak with one voice to Government.