September 2020 – Director’s Blog
We have two immediate priorities at Glasgow City Region, both equally as pressing. The first is to re-set our City Deal infrastructure programme in light of recent delays and the changes that need to be implemented as a result of Covid-19. And secondly, we are also working hard to understand the impact of the pandemic on the Regional economy and to take measures to build it back up again.
I am pleased to say that construction is re-starting. At Sighthill work has begun again on the new homes, made possible through City Deal infrastructure works, and contractors are on site for the build of the iconic bridge over the M8 motorway. This picture is reflected across the Region and our member authorities are now developing updated project delivery plans which will be collated into a refreshed Programme Business Case in the coming months.
In my last Blog, I mentioned extensive work underway to understand the impact of recent events on our economy, individual sectors and on local jobs. Over the past months, a number of bulletins have been issued by the City Region Intelligence Hub providing estimates on the scale of the challenge facing the Region. This includes significant risks to businesses working in construction and to sectors which rely on footfall such as retail. An estimated 217,000 employees have been furloughed across our eight council areas. GDP is expected to drop substantially. Unsurprisingly there is the potential for many jobs to be lost across the Region and a detrimental impact on young people either leaving the education system and seeking work or employed in sectors most impacted.
While all of the City Region councils have their own local economic recovery plan, a Regional economic recovery plan is also being developed. This emerging plan has been informed by a number of areas of work including a review of the economic recovery approaches being taken by other key UK city regions and by the recommendations of the Scottish Government’s independent Advisory Group on Economic Recovery (AGER), which incidentally particularly recommended a Regional approach to economic recovery. Our partner councils have also outlined key challenges affecting their local areas, economic recovery work underway and provided views on areas where a regional approach is required and what this might involve.
The Regional Economic Recovery Plan has identified a series of actions, focused around the themes of People, Place and Business. It is being progressed through collaboration with key regional partners, including Skills Development Scotland and Scottish Enterprise, and in consultation with our Portfolio Groups. Last month the City Region Cabinet approved a set of priority actions and asked the PMO to develop costings for their progress by appointed partners. Performance against the delivery of the Recovery Plan will be reported through Cabinet.
We will continue working with government, the Economic Commission and the Fraser of Allander Institute to gather intelligence to help us identify how to best re-build and re-configure our economy, to maximise arising opportunities and to instil future economic resilience.
On a final point, I should mentioned work underway to create a Glasgow City Regional Capital Investment Plan. Building on progress made by our Infrastructure and Assets Portfolio, this will serve to support our construction sector which is under severe threat by providing more information on planned public sector capital projects. A mapping exercise should be completed by the end of the year.
All of this important work will feed into the renewal of our Regional Economic Strategy which will be published in 2021.
Kevin Rush is Director of Regional Economic Growth at Glasgow City Region
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