June 2020 – Director’s Blog
Recent events have been unprecedented. But I wanted to update you on some recent positive developments at the City Region and also on work underway to help to rebuild our economy.
Firstly, you’ll be aware of the new group established for the city, the Glasgow Economic Recovery Group. This is chaired by Susan Aitken, the Leader of Glasgow City Council and includes representatives from the business, voluntary, creative and academic sectors as well as key economic experts.
Its main focus is to get the city up and running again, to work out how we can best recover economically from the pandemic, adapt to the new reality and maximise resilience during and beyond recovery.
We are seeking out the best advice and learning from the best practices of other countries and Regions coming out of lockdown. We are also looking at data on the potential economic impact of the pandemic to help us make decisions and take action on issues such as public transport, business support, investment, tourism and retail, housing, green infrastructure, employment, digital connectivity and access – how people get safely into and around the city.
We are in discussion with the UK and Scottish Government about a range of proposals and opportunities. A report of recommendations will be published soon that will guide the economic recovery of the city and the wider city region.
In April the UK and Scottish Governments wrote to us to extend their commitment to the City Region and the City Deal. And in May, we received formal confirmation from the governments of our successful Gateway Review – a massive positive for the Region. This unlocks a critical £250 million funding boost for the next five years for vital infrastructure work that will help kick start the Region’s post Covid-19 economic recovery and play a key part in supporting thousands of jobs and businesses.
This was the first of three reviews over the twenty year City Deal which unlock funding for infrastructure – all based on an assessment of our performance. The Review, carried out by an independent company, recognised significant successes across the City Deal to date and commended the Region for our focus on delivering inclusive economic growth, our strong partnership and shared vision to transform the Regional economy. We are really delighted by the outcome of the Gateway Review, the conclusion of many months of preparation.
Our City Deal is now in its sixth year. I talk often about our significant progress, with all projects either underway or completed and over £275 million spent to date (end March 2020). At the beginning of this year, we had anticipated infrastructure spend in the next five years to be £700 million, more than double spend to date and construction to be completed for most projects.
However, in line of course with government advice as a result of Covid-19, contractors suspended construction on all projects some months ago.
Where possible back office work on the City Deal has still been progressing such as on procurement, community benefits and project design. And now, thankfully, we are seeing construction slowly returning.
So what is next? Well, we now have a big job to do to revisit the infrastructure build programme in light of these delays and other impacts such as new ways of working, some of which may only become apparent in the coming months.
Work to improve transport and connectivity, a key focus of the £1 billion City Deal programme, will move forward, including the feasibility study on proposals for a Glasgow metro system – a sustainable, integrated transport solution which has the potential to greatly improve access to jobs and build on our status as a global city region. Sustainable and inclusive travel and transport projects feature widely and include road improvements, bridges and active travel initiatives. Extensive remediation works will also continue to unlock land in key locations for private, commercial and housing development.
The Clyde Corridor which runs through the Region presents a massive opportunity. In Mission Clyde, we hope to create a programme that will be the largest regeneration initiative in Europe. We are working with partners to accelerate this as a priority.
As a final point, I wanted to mention work underway by the City Region Intelligence Hub to build up a picture on what is happening with the Regional economy as a result of Covid-19. Not an easy task.
Various sources of data are being examined including national analysis from the Bank of England and from the Scottish Government’s Chief economic advisor. Working alongside the Fraser of Allander Institute, we’ve been developing an economic model which will give us the ability to understand the possible scale of economic impacts of different shocks to the economy.
The model is due to be completed next month. However, as part of its development we now have the tools to look at the impacts on different sectors and industries and have provided partners with modelled data on the Tourism sector, local spending and the impacts of large employers leaving the Region.
In the next month, we’ll kick off with the first issue of a regular City Region Intelligence briefing. Register here if you’d like to receive a copy.
Kevin Rush is Director of Regional Economic Growth at Glasgow City Region
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