Glasgow City Region launches a new economic strategy for the Region

A new economic strategy launched today for Glasgow City Region is set to have a profound impact on wider public sector policy, decision-making and spend over the next ten years for the local area of 1.8 million residents and 50,000 businesses.

The strategy sets the approach for how the Region will weather current and future key challenges, some of which are expected to completely disrupt our way of life – including the impact of Covid-19, the climate emergency, and unprecedented technological advances.

The approach is a first in that it has been developed and endorsed not only by the Region’s eight councils, but by government and wider public sector agencies including Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland – all of which will be instrumental in its delivery.

The strategy, developed by the Region’s Intelligence Hub, is the result of months of extensive research with input from partners across the councils, government agencies, local universities, the business and third sectors. It is underpinned by an in-depth analysis of the Region’s strengths and the current and future challenges faced – collectively and individually by the eight council areas of Glasgow, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, South Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire.

Chair of the Glasgow City Region Cabinet and Leader of Glasgow City Council, Susan Aitken said:

“Over the next ten years, the Glasgow City Region economy will be increasingly shaped by incredible technological advancement and the imperative to achieve net zero.  There will be challenges but also generational opportunities.

“Our new Regional Economic Strategy recognises where our strengths lie, how we compare to other major Regions and the key issues faced collectively by the Region and its eight partner councils.   

It brings clarity to our priorities and informs decision-making around issues of place, skills and health, and how to achieve net zero in a way which also delivers inclusivity, growth and prosperity.”

Three key Regional challenges are woven through the strategy:

  • The imperative to address the climate emergency: This includes managing the risk of rising sea levels, flooding, coastal erosion and heatwaves; supporting businesses to address climate action to improve their efficiency, productivity and competitiveness; and ensuring the transition to net zero is fair and equitable, particularly as the most deprived communities are likely to be impacted most from climate change. This will involve work to look at skills, both to support people to access the job opportunities arising from the net zero, climate resilient shift, and those working in industries where jobs may be affected.
  • The need to create a much more inclusive economy. With the Region home to some of the most deprived communities in Scotland, actions need to tackle the underlying drivers such as rising underemployment, economic activity due to ill health and low employment rates for specific groups.
  • The long-standing issue of low productivity has constrained the local economy. Actions will need to address growing the number of businesses per capital and business Research and Development spend, both of which need to increase.

A new vision sets out the partners’ commitment to address these challenges: 

By 2030, Glasgow City Region will have the most Innovative, Inclusive and Resilient Economy in the UK.

Opportunities have also been identified which could transform the Region. These include a focus on the Foundational Economy and High Growth sectors and addressing Climate Change.

UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said:

“This is an ambitious plan with a focus on sustainability and creating opportunity throughout.  

“The UK Government is working closely with the Glasgow City Region partnership and will continue to support their goals through its regional investments.  

“We are delivering more than £1.7 billion for projects across Scotland, helping to level up communities.”

Scottish Government Trade Minister Ivan McKee said:

“This Strategy puts the 1.8 million residents of the Glasgow City region at its heart, delivering opportunities to grow and recover from this very challenging period for businesses and workers.

“The Scottish Government supports the Strategy’s mission to advance a just transition to net zero, creating a more inclusive economy focused on improving productivity and wellbeing.  

“This Strategy showcases what can be achieved when a region works together as a partnership, coming together to focus on recovery from the pandemic and the impact of Brexit. I have every faith that regional partners will continue to work together to deliver a positive impact over the next decade as we help create a fair and prosperous economy for all.”    

Stuart Patrick, Chief Executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said:

“On behalf of the business community, I warmly welcome Glasgow City Region’s outlined economic strategy as a progressive, ambitious and carefully considered statement of intent. With innovation at its very core, this strategy will ensure that Glasgow’s entrepreneurs, business community and research universities are well-equipped to approach enthusiastically the opportunities which both net zero and artificial intelligence present.

 “Glasgow City Region is an economic powerhouse, and it is reassuring that the strategy explicitly recognises the extensive role that our business community plays in the city.  Furthermore, this strategy tackles both the climate emergency and the long-standing exclusion of too many neighbourhoods from economic prosperity and I know there are very many in the business community who are eager to contribute on both counts.

 “We look forward to playing an active role in delivering this new strategy and working to keep the interests of our city at the heart of what we do.”

In delivering the strategy, a series of programmes will be taken forward, some of which are already underway and some which require to be further developed. A number of exciting initiatives are anticipated in the coming months including proposals to establish a Regional investment fund; and programmes for Fair and Healthy Work; Green Business Support; a Green Demonstrator for electric vehicle charging; a Future Towns and City initiative which will use the latest data technology to understand shifting demands on our town centres to support policy development; and finally a Foundational Economy pilot to support growth and innovation in a sector which makes up 60% of the Region’s jobs and 40% of its businesses.

Continued Susan Aitken:

Twelve key programmes are proposed which include delivering on the potential of the waterfront through the Clyde Mission; a Metro system connecting the wider city Region; the Home Energy Retrofit; support for our city and town centres; ensuring citizens are equipped with the skills for the new economies; and assisting businesses on their transition to net zero.

“Transformation will of course require significant investment. Whether it is creating the conditions for the likes of Barclays to bring thousands of jobs, or our innovation districts, we’ll continue to find new ways of bringing in investment into our communities and business base.

“We are – as ever – ready to work with all partners to deliver this new ambitious Regional Economic Strategy.”

Work will now take place by the City Region to develop a detailed action plan over the next six months which will assign ownership of actions across the member councils and wider partnership, with indicative costs, and framework for monitoring and evaluation.

Click here to view the Regional Economic Strategy.