July 2021 Director’s Blog

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Our latest Economic Briefing has been issued by the Intelligence Hub – the tenth Covid-19 briefing produced about the impact of the pandemic on the economy and the emerging challenges and opportunities. You can read it here.

Findings show that while recent economic data releases give grounds for optimism, with growth in the UK economy in April and the Bank of England forecasting the strongest period of growth since the Second World War – there is still emerging evidence that headline figures are masking some worrying trends for young and older members of the labour market. 

The briefing also touches on the Foundational Economy – the nation’s essential physical and operating infrastructure and public services. The pandemic has provided a window into the social infrastructure such as health and medical services and those workers engaged in the provision and supply of food, water, energy and communications, that underpins much of daily life.

We are looking closely at the Foundational Economy since over 60% of jobs and 40% of businesses in Glasgow City Region are based within it. It also covers a significant proportion of low paid jobs. Focusing on productivity growth in the Foundational Economy offers a way of overcoming some of the challenges in ensuring economic growth is inclusive.

The Intelligence Hub is currently reviewing of innovation and productivity in the Foundational Economy. Developing a Regional approach to supporting businesses here could improve employment outcomes for a large portion of the Region’s residents. Over the next few months, the team will explore how the Foundational Economy could play a role in the new Regional Economic Strategy, whether broadly in terms of shifting the focus of sector policy, or more specifically on enhancing innovation across the Region’s business base.

All of this is really interesting and valuable analysis to support the development of the Region’s next Economic Strategy, which will build on work completed for our Recovery Plan and the economic baseline. There is a lot of work to do to understand the emerging and of course evolving picture, discuss priorities with member councils and with other key partners and governments. Work will focus on the Region’s three grand challenges of inclusive growth, productivity and climate emergency and a series of working groups have been established to develop this over the next few months.

A more detailed briefing note on the Foundational Economy is also available along with a range of other reports, and we will continue to issue regular updates on the economy. Sign up here to receive copies and ensure you don’t miss out.

In last month’s blog I talked about our plans in relation to sustainability and the climate emergency which included our Climate Adaptation Strategy. The launch event was a great success and generated some lively debate from leading speakers on climate resilience and innovation and our own local leaders about how we’ll be delivering the changes needed in the decade ahead. You may have seen some of the press coverage. The Region is at the forefront of adaptation planning – the big challenge now comes as we look to deliver it.

Plans for our Housing Energy Retrofit programme is also part of our complementary ambitions to reduce emissions and combine social and economic recovery from the pandemic. The Evening Times ran a piece on what is behind our plans and the funding we need to realise them. The feasibility work is underway and will report later in the year.

Earlier this month, Glasgow welcomed the MP Iain Stewart, the Under Secretary of State in the Scotland Office who attended the City Centre Task Force meeting and took the opportunity to visit a number of City Deal funded Avenues projects This month’s edition of the Scottish Planner also ran a special feature on Glasgow City Region: A Clyde Rebuilt – which you can view here

Have a good summer break.

Kevin Rush is Director of Regional Economic Growth at Glasgow City Region

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