Reflections on the past year for Glasgow City Region: December 2023 Director’s Blog

Looking back, 2023 has been a year like no other for Glasgow City Region.

From 5G to Innovation, a new low carbon masterplan for the Clyde, the £74 million Shared Prosperity Fund Investment Plan, and a winning bid for a £160 million local investment zone – we have made the biggest leap forward this year since 2014 when our City Deal began – with boosted funding and resources and a vastly extended Regional remit.

The March 2023 Budget Statement heralded the Region as one of three pilot UK Innovation Accelerators, sharing £100 million UK Government funding for 11 ambitious local projects.

In April 2023, our eight councils commenced delivery of the £74 million UK Shared Prosperity Fund Investment Plan, the only region is Scotland to take a collective approach and one which will bring a range of opportunities and benefits.

June welcomed news of our successful bid to be one of two new Investment Zones in Scotland following a joint selection process by the UK and Scottish Governments. In the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement last month, the funding is now anticipated to increase to £160 million in targeted investment, tax reliefs and other incentives over ten years. And work continues to engage with local organisations to further shape our proposals.

In August, the First Minister formally announced the migration of Clyde Mission from the Scottish Government to Glasgow City Region, appointing us as lead with £1.5 million funding for a team to shape an ambitious masterplan for the river and to manage a further £25 million heat decarbonisation fund.

Last month we launched a new Action Plan for the Region’s innovation economy, together with partners Innovate UK and Scottish Enterprise. And just a few weeks ago, Glasgow City Region was announced as one the successful UK 5G Innovation Regions which will share a funding pot from the UK Government of £36 million. Our 5G project will deliver wide-ranging economic and community benefits demonstrating the demand for, and benefits of 5G and advanced wireless technologies across the social housing and health and social care sectors.

This year we also continued to press forward with our £1.13 billion City Deal which remains one of the largest and most advanced in the UK. We celebrated some key milestones, with the opening of the M8 bridge at Sighthill, the spans sailed up the river for the Partick – Govan bridge and the completion and formal opening of Greenock Ocean Terminal.

It is worth noting that the Region’s in-house Intelligence Hub has continued to provide the data and support underpinning policy decisions across most of what we do, including for our new remits, both for the partnership of eight councils and for government agencies.

In fact, the upcoming Intelligence Hub special briefing on AI points to a need for policy around skills to take account of current and future impacts this area. 

So, what is next for us?

Our partnership of eight councils is strong and is working well.

We have a proven track record in delivery.

We have a great team in place with the Glasgow City Region Programme Management Office (PMO) supporting all of this and taking forward some key initiatives. The team has continued to grow this year, and rightly so.

We have a clear plan, and one that we will continue to finesse and review.

We thank both governments for their confidence in Glasgow City Region, and we look forward to continuing discussions on future centralised funding opportunities and further powers. 

The past 12 months clearly provide a strong case for further devolution of powers to the Region, and preferably a single pot of funding, so that we are further empowered to deliver even more.

Next year we expect to see even greater successes.

View all of our Director’s Blogs here.