Report of the Assistant Director of Place (Economic Growth and Housing)
The Committee considered the report of the Assistant Director of Place (Economic Growth and Housing) that updated on the outcome of the Sefton Economic Strategy (the Strategy) consultation and next steps.
The report advised that the Strategy was last produced in 2018 and that the subsequent Action Plan was approved by Cabinet Member – Regeneration and Skills in December 2019; that the delivery of the Action Plan was almost immediately disrupted in March 2020 with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and part of the emergency response was the production of the Council’s Sefton Strategic Recovery Plan to help the Council prioritise its emergency support activities; that Sefton had since commissioned Mickledore to undertake further work in the refresh and repurposing of the Strategy in 2022; and that this followed previous well received work undertaken by Mickledore during the pandemic which resulted in a Covid-19 Response report and Sefton Prospectuses outlining key opportunities for attracting new inward investment with a specific focus on Bootle and Southport.
The report also provided information on the Strategy consultation and annex A attached to the report detailed a summary of the results of the consultation exercise.
The Sefton Economic Strategy-final version, that was approved by Cabinet at its meeting held on 3 November 2022, was attached to the report as annex B. The key headlines of the Strategy related to:
· Economy and income levels
· Business activity
· Employment and skills
· Disparities in Sefton
The report concluded that the Strategy would focus on the four key thematic objectives of employment and opportunities for work, business growth and investment, regenerated places and social inclusion and access for all; and that the next steps would include:
· further consultation with the Health and Wellbeing board in January 2023, to ensure that key aspects of Health and Wellbeing objectives were integrated in the development of specific actions and projects
· ensuring that Net Zero and Sustainability links were identified in the relevant actions
· the production of a detailed Performance framework in the form of an Excel Spreadsheet that would include all the actions necessary to deliver the objectives of the Strategy
Members of the Committee asked questions/commented on the following matters:
· external funding elements of the Strategy
· had the Council made applications for Levelling-Up funding to contribute to capital projects that support the Strategy. It was noted that Sefton had been placed by the Government in category 3, the lowest level of priority for such funding; that two Council bids for funding in round 1 had been unsuccessful and that feedback was awaited from Government on two bids submitted for round 2
· the Council was progressing the Strategy in the face of 50% reductions to its budget
· encouragement and promotion of Sefton to harness the spending power of disabled households known as the “purple pound”, building on existing engagement with stakeholders and community groups
· potential actions to bring back into use vacant and underutilised floorspace (vacant shops /offices etc) to support other uses and the need to work with the private sector to achieve these aims given private sector ownership of the assets in question
· unemployment and its impact on mental health and wellbeing, particularly parents/carers leaving the job market to look after children in their care
· women leaving the job market due to medical issues such as the menopause
· the Strategy document was a great framework to support the growth of the borough’s economy
the report updating on the outcome of the Sefton Economic Strategy consultation and next steps be noted; and
further updates on progress for the Sefton Economic Strategy Action Plan be submitted to the Committee when appropriate.