August-September 2022 Director’s Blog

The Action Plan for our latest Regional Economic Strategy (RES) was agreed by our eight council leaders at this month’s Cabinet meeting. 

This sets out the high-level actions which will support the Region’s key economic challenges and ambitions, many of which will be completed by the end of this year.

Since the approval of the RES in December, the macroeconomic, political, social and environmental context has continued to change rapidly, resulting in additional uncertainties and challenges.

However, as a Region we have the distinct advantage of having an in-house Intelligence Hub. The Hub team proactively undertake regular economic analysis allowing us to monitor the ever-changing economic climate, understand local impacts and implications, and effectively reconfigure our plans and priorities accordingly.

You may have received the latest Intelligence Hub briefing which focuses on the cost-of-living crisis. This demonstrates the scale of challenges being faced by our residents and businesses, and these are some of the challenges that will continue to be considered and addressed through our RES Action Plan.

The Action Plan provides an update on progress made for each of the 12 programmes and sets out the key actions for each for the remainder of 2022/23.

It is worth noting that a wide range of activity is continuing to deliver on the investment which has already been made available and secured for Regional activity, including the £1.13 billion City Deal.

Work already undertaken this year could also help to secure further significant government funding for Green Freeport enabling works (£25 million seed capital), R&D and business innovation (£35 million Innovation Accelerator) and development of investment grade business cases for zero emission heat projects (£25 million via Clyde Mission).

We continue to promote the Region’s Green Freeport bid and to engage with key stakeholders. The two winning bids are anticipated to be announced within the next few weeks, and we hope to be one of them, particularly as Glasgow City Region has the most compelling case.

Work continues to develop business cases for Energy Retrofit, Electric Vehicle Charging and Vacant and Derelict Land. These will provide preferred solutions, economic and financial cases which will be essential for future funding applications and the development of commercial investment propositions.

You can view the Action Plan here.

In relation to work on Electric Vehicle Charging, in January 2022 Transport Scotland announced a major change to the way in which electric vehicle infrastructure is funded across Scotland with a new fund established to attract an additional £30 million of private sector investment in infrastructure. 

The Region’s new Electric Vehicle Taskforce, made of leading experts from each of the member councils, along with Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, Scottish Futures Trust and the University of Strathclyde, is working together to understand the future need for additional charging infrastructure across the Region, particularly through the private sector. 

This involves looking across the Region at tariffs, grid capacity and potential site selection for EV charging points, along with types of delivery models to ensure the best customer experience for EV users. An additional piece of work is also being commissioned to scope out the requirements for electric fleet vehicles across the Region and low carbon solutions for heavy good’s vehicles to ensure a holistic, joined up approach to the Region’s future transport network.    

With the Transport Sector accounting for the largest contribution to greenhouse gases in 2018, and road transport accounting for two-thirds of these emissions, this work is a critical step towards emissions reductions and Scotland’s climate change targets.

Cabinet also approved the Region’s Shared Prosperity Fund Investment Plan.

In February 2022, Glasgow City Region Cabinet agreed to take a regional approach to the development and delivery of the UKSPF investment, the only region in Scotland to take this approach.

In practice, this has meant establishing a Head of Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF) post to manage the programme on the Region’s behalf and co-ordinate activity across the eight member authorities. While operational delivery rests with each council area, individual projects will all support the priorities within the Regional Economic Strategy, and the SPF funding will support activities within the RES Action Plan.  The core GCR SPF team will have responsibility for the overall programme management of UKSPF, including financial pass-down, reporting, monitoring and evaluation of the programme.

Over the summer months, the Glasgow City Region PMO visited the eight council areas to meet colleagues delivering City Deal projects and see progress underway first-hand. This was a great success, and I know that officers across the Region were delighted to welcome the team and to showcase the work that has been completed, underway of in the planning, and the benefits the projects will bring to local people and communities. Our City Deal is one of the most advanced in the UK, and we look forward to celebrating some major milestones in the next few months. 

View all of our Director’s Blogs here.

Portrait photograph of Kevin Rush