The latest news at Glasgow City Region

November 2020 – Director’s Blog

In the next few weeks we’ll be launching a new quarterly briefing from our Intelligence Hub, the first of which will focus on Place and include thought pieces from industry experts about the impact of the pandemic on the Housing, Retail and Commercial sectors. You can get a hold of this and sign up to receive future issues here. We’d be delighted to hear feedback and suggestions for future topics of interest. 

Work is also underway to update our Regional economic baseline, a detailed individual and collective analysis of the economic performance of the Region and the eight local authority areas that make up the Region. It assesses our performance on a wide range of indicators over time, compared to eight other competing UK city regions. This, along with a medium term economic outlook, will be available early next year.

While the picture is clearly likely to continue to be challenging, this dedicated economic intelligence is vital and is helping us to better understand the key issues and set our priorities, particularly for our Regional and wider economic recovery plans.

Last month I touched on work underway in the Regional Economic Recovery Plan. At the recent Regional Economic Partnership meeting, leads from Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland shared progress in their activities with the Chief Executives from our eight partner councils, colleagues from the UK and Scottish Governments and the Chambers of Commerce. Good progress continues to be made in shaping business support services to meet Regional priorities and in work to attract further investment to the Region. Work also continues in enhancing support for those who have been or are about to become unemployed and to ensure our residents have the skills for jobs in the post-Covid economy.

Work has kicked off on our Community Wealth Building pilot, with the first stage a research and local engagement exercise underway and due to be completed by the end of December.

This is the first time this has been attempted on a Regional basis. It is being led by Scottish Government colleagues using expertise from CLES which has been instrumental in driving successful approaches across the UK.

The Region is currently living under a range of local restrictions which include limitations on the hospitality industry and on meetings with other households. This is likely to be ongoing, to one degree or another.  However, hopefully next year as we move into a post-pandemic period, we will publish our new Regional Economic Strategy which will respond to the challenges from Covid-19 and build on actions within the Recovery Plan to restart our economy.

As home to almost one third of Scotland’s jobs, business base and economic output and the fourth largest city region in the UK, the Region’s success is critical to the prosperity of Scotland and to the UK.  That’s why we are pushing hard not just to drive growth and investment but to seek resource and funding for transformational projects that will protect the Region through these difficult times.

We have evolved over the past twenty years to a Region of knowledge and innovation. In the next five years we expect to have higher levels of productivity than most other post-industrial city regions including Manchester and Liverpool. In fact, earlier this year, in a review of the UK’s top performing innovation economies, the Connected Places Catapult identified us as one of four city regions in the UK with ‘the strongest potential to join London, Oxford and Cambridge as engines of Britain’s future economy’.

All of this of course is fantastic. But we have to do more. That is why the Clyde Mission is so vital to our plans – the greatest untapped development opportunity in Western Europe.

The Clyde Mission will re-invent the Clyde as an engine of sustainable and inclusive growth and address flooding issues. Repurposing over 1,000 acres of vacant land in key locations along the river, it will re-connect neglected communities and support plans for green transport and renewable energy. And it will build on and extend our three emerging innovation districts, all underpinned by City Deal investment, transforming our social, physical and economic landscape.

We are working closely with colleagues from government. But it requires serious ambition and a massive investment in resource, funding and imagination.

Funding of £35 million has already been committed through the Scottish Government’s Programme for Scotland. Of this £10 million is dedicated in 2020/21 to the Clyde Catalyst Fund to support capital projects such as construction and physical and environmental improvements. The funding process is now nearing completion and applicants will be notified soon.

For the period 2021-26, £25 million is committed to support zero carbon energy infrastructure and heat networks for residential and commercial premises along the river.

Two further updates … In early December, we will meet with our government partners for the annual review of progress with our City Deal. We’ll use this as an opportunity to showcase successes throughout the year and to discuss plans for our updated programme, in light of the extensive impacts of Covid-19. 

Finally, Glasgow City Region’s first Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan is under development by Climate Ready Clyde. This will be completed ahead of COP26 in Glasgow and it is currently open for public consultation until 24 December 2020.

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

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