The Industrial Strategy Green Paper outlined three overarching challenges facing the UK.
These can be summarised as building on our strengths and extending excellence into the future; ensuring that every place meets its potential; and making the UK one of the most competitive places in the world to start or to grow a business.
It is encouraging that these challenges map directly onto the four priorities set out in our refreshed Strategic Economic Plan (SEP): maintaining global excellence in science and technology; harnessing our relationships with London and elsewhere; re-invigorating our places for the 21st Century, particularly our New Towns which possess such potential; and laying the foundations for business growth and job creation.
We welcome the fact that the Industrial Strategy was introduced as a Green Paper – in order to consult with relevant organisations – which signals a genuine intention to listen to, and learn from, different parts of the UK. It is vital that there is nationwide input without a disproportionate focus on the most politically visible regions and that areas like Hertfordshire have a say.
We see how the 10 proposed Pillars align, and resonate, with what we see in our region, build on the tenets of our SEP and how, if well implemented, could bring about a real step change in economic performance. We also see a number of areas where further opportunity could be created.
Opportunities we have identified include:
- Government responding to the priorities being evidenced through the Science and Innovation Audits;
- A commitment to invest fully and appropriately in outward-facing universities (such as the University of Hertfordshire);
- Encouragement for the development of a new generation of Garden Towns;
- Tools and resources to equip local planning authorities given pressures for changes of use linked to Permitted Development Rights, ensuring there is an appropriate stock of employment land;
- Better mechanisms for aligning provision through Further Education Colleges with the requirements of local businesses;
- Successor programmes to European Structural Investment Fund support focused on scale-up and managed locally;
- More freedom in relation to business rates to incentivise local clustering.
You can read more about the opportunities we have identified and our more detailed full response to the proposed Industrial Strategy here.
We look forward to further discussion as the Industrial Strategy ideas are formulated into government policy and believe that Hertfordshire remains “perfectly placed for business” to help bring these ideas to substantive fruition at local level.