To receive an update from the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) regarding the projects and work they have ongoing in the district.
A presentation was received from Lucy Gravatt, Director of Partnerships and Communications at Hertfordshire LEP, and following this a question and answer session was held.
Audio recording – 5 minutes 13 seconds
Ms Lucy Gravatt, Director of Partnerships and Communications at Hertfordshire LEP, thanked the Chair for the opportunity to address the Committee and provided Members with a presentation which included the following:
· The LEP was business led, with a Board responsible for setting the overall vision and strategy for the County’s economic development, which includes advocacy, economic partnership and resourcing.
· The Programme Management Committee was to support the priority areas and the Assessment Panel has authority to make decisions on funding of up to £250k for projects. Anything over this amount has to be approved at Board level.
· On the Board of the LEP was space for members from Local Authorities, space for a not-for-profit member, representative from further education colleges and representatives from small and medium businesses.
· There has been a recent, significant restructure to pivot the way the LEP operates and have ensured relevant skills are available in the organisation to support the work within the key growth sectors in Herts, which includes film and TV.
· The Herts LEP exists as one of 38 LEPs in the country, tasked by Government to target business growth and investment in the local area.
· The key priorities of the Herts LEP included ‘Transforming our places’, ‘Supporting our people’ and ‘Growing our businesses’ and offered details of some examples of these projects.
· The restructure of the organisation has allowed for more focus on the key strategies and outcomes.
· Some of the Herts LEP flagship programmes included; the Herts Growth Hub, Careers & Enterprise Company, Visit Herts, Herts Innovation Quarter and HOP.
· Last year marked a decade of the Herts LEP and over this time over £325m had been invested in the County thanks to the work of the LEP.
· The Core Capabilities of the LEP include driving forward a narrative for Herts which is based on intelligence, the communication of economic issues and promoting support, and funding schemes.
· Some of the Strategic Programmes of the LEP include business growth through advocacy and signposting, developing skills and leadership and growing key sectors identified.
· There will be a move away from the delivery of projects and going forward the LEP will have a focus on the Levelling Up Agenda.
· There was also a long term approach taken, which would look at future growth opportunities and the AGM later this year will start the conversations around these plans.
· There was a desire to reduce carbon footprint across all LEP projects and schemes.
· Herts productivity levels were above national average, but Letchworth and Hitchin were lower.
· Start-Up businesses in Herts were above national average, but lower in North Herts.
· The working age population was declining across Herts as a whole.
· Commercial floorspace had gradually been declining over the last decade.
· There were some key issues existing in Herts which still needed to be addressed, such as the cost of doing business in Herts, the cost of living in Herts and ensuring long term funding for projects in the absence of EU support..
· Without finding funding for projects, there was a risk that there could be a roll back of progress made by the LEP and this would impact the ability to support local areas, conduct rural outreach and develop low carbon alternatives.
· North Herts was not yet involved in Visit Herts or the Screen Office scheme.
The following Members asked questions:
· Councillor Nigel Mason
· Councillor Adam Compton
· Councillor Claire Strong
· Councillor David Levett
In response to questions, Ms Gravatt advised:
· She was unsure of what organisations existed and what was done with the funding, prior to the LEPs.
· The LEP were doing all they could to support start-ups and they would signpost these to national and local support available.
· There was a survey underway to see how best to support SMEs in the area.
· Using economic intelligence to ensure actions taken by the LEP are relevant to Herts business.
· A lot of the LEP policy is based on government policy, but there is an ability of the LEP to be more agile and maximise opportunities coming from government. It is also a two way relationship, which allows the LEP to feed back to government representatives on policy.
· Generally the film and TV industry was in the south of the county, but there was a desire to find further locations and this could benefit the North Herts area.
· There was a desire to take a holistic approach to the economy and looking a developing relationships with a wider range of stakeholders, who are willing to challenge existing policy, to ensure it remains relevant and inclusive going forward.
· The Clean Growth Strategy had been developed with clear deliverables set out in the action plan and further presentations could be provided on this for Members.
· There was a formula for measuring productivity and these details could be provided to Members.
· The productivity data was used to understand why Hertfordshire was generally slower than elsewhere and what interventions could be made to improve productivity.
· The start up provision does not require start ups to be in the key sectors highlighted. The key sector support is run as a focus group where experts will be invited along to offer advice on relevant topics.
· Business support is standard, with additional opportunities to develop larger programmes where appropriate.
· A small business is considered as one that has fewer than 50 employees.
In response to a question from the Chair, the Service Director – Regulatory noted that he assumed the LEP would be one source for data included in the Annual Data Monitoring Report, alongside other sources and internal data.
The Chair thanked Ms Gravatt for her presentation this evening and for taking the time to answer questions from Members.
Councillor Strong suggested that the slides be shared via MIS so that the information is available to all Members and the Chair agreed to this.