Report of the Head of Economy, Enterprise and Skills (EES/20/4) relating to Devon’s Economic Recovery Programme, attached.
An Impact Assessment was also attached for the information of Members at this meeting and was available on the Impact Assessment Webpages.
(Councillors Atkinson, Biederman Connett, Dewhirst, Hannaford and Hodgson attended remotely in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 and spoke to this item).
The Cabinet considered the Report of the Head of Economy, Enterprise and Skills (EES/20/4) relating to Devon’s Economic Recovery Programme, circulated prior to the meeting in accordance with regulation 7(4) of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012.
The Report highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic had and continued to have a significant impact on the Devon economy, businesses, communities and workforce. The Devon economy had contracted by circa 8% in terms of productivity and unemployment had risen to above 6%.
Recovery would not be at the same pace, with gaps emerging across the County, including significant impacts on the tourism and hospitality, retail, construction and manufacturing sectors, as well as high levels of youth unemployment, and a rise in worklessness amongst those over 50.
Conversely, a range of opportunities had been emerging to support economic recovery, for example the digital, health and care, social economy and clean growth sectors.
As more restrictions from Government were anticipated, the ongoing economic consequences were very hard to predict.
The Report outlined a proposal to seek financial investment from the Council to support the economic recovery of the hardest hit places, enterprises and individuals, and to take forward a number of opportunities to build back a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable economy. This meant an investment of £6 million over the next two and / or three years to target four key economic recovery priorities which would be aligned to other funding streams;
· Support for small and medium enterprises - circa £1,560,000;
· Employment and Skills - circa £1,650,000;
· Opportunities and Green Recovery - circa £1,450,000; and
· Towns and hardest hit places - circa £1,050,000.
A small amount of circa £290,000 would be set aside for capacity building and resourcing to improve delivery capacity and the resilience of key business networks.
The above four packages would aim to support 385 businesses to take up digital solutions, 480 businesses to adapt their business practices, deliver a new Green Business Directory and Tool Kit, provide 2500 individuals with redeployment and employment support, support 500 additional apprenticeship places, deliver 700 new level two training places and 250 new level three training opportunities, support 500 start-up businesses to launch, engage 100 young people in start-up opportunities and create 20 new ventures, engage with 90 social entrepreneurs and create 40 new social enterprises, support 150 farms to become more resilient, establish 300 members in the Made In Devon programme, create 10 additional work hubs, 2-3 natural capital innovation pilots, 8 Urban Renewal Plans for the hardest hit towns and support up to 20 communities develop local energy networks.
The Head of Service’s Report also contained an Impact Assessment which was included in the agenda for the attention of Members at the meeting. It highlighted that the proposals set out in the Report were seeking to alleviate the consequences of the pandemic and the measures set out focussed on some of the most vulnerable groups being impacted by the contraction of the economy, and targeted the hardest hit communities where there was already underlying deprivation and social challenges.
The matter having been debated and the alternatives explored and other relevant factors (e.g. financial, sustainability (including carbon impact), risk management, equality and legal considerations and Public Health impact) as set out in the Head of Service’s Report and referred to above having been considered:
it was MOVED by Councillor Gilbert, SECONDED by Councillor Hart, and
RESOLVED that an Economic Recovery Programme of £6 million over the next 2-3 years (as part of the 2021/22 budget setting process), be fully supported and endorsed.
(NB: The Impact Assessment referred to above may be viewed alongside Minutes of this meeting and may also be available on the Impact Assessment Webpages).