Local Enterprise Partnerships need to act to reinvigorate the private sector

Distilling machine CERAM Stoke-on-Tent

Weaknesses in the structure of the West Midlands economy mean that it was hit particularly hard by the recent recession and is likely to see further job losses over the next five years.

Our latest briefing paper (pdf, 408kb), produced as part of our West Midlands Skills Assessment 2010, reveals that the West Midlands has a weaker private sector than other parts of the country. The West Midlands has poorer representation of higher value added activities and high growth firms with the potential to create new, skilled jobs.

As a result the West Midlands has seen its share of jobs in the public sector rise more rapidly than anywhere else in the country. It is particularly vulnerable to job losses from the spending cuts announced by the government.

We forecast that West Midlands Gross Value Added (GVA) will grow by only 8% (£8.8 billion) between 2010 and 2015 and there will be a net fall in employment of more than 38,000 people.

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Local enterprise partnership proposals announced

56 proposals for local enterprise partnerships across the country have been submitted, the government has confirmed, following the closing day for submissions.

There are seven proposals from the West Midlands:

Three distinct responses in respect to cross boundary working arrangements have also been received from Peak District, South East England and West Leicestershire and Northern Warwickshire.

Here’s the full list of proposals.

Inward investment into the West Midlands 2009/10 – a local analysis

In 2009/10 there were 84 inward investment successes in the West Midlands and another four knowledge-based investments. These investments created over 1,500 new jobs and safeguarded another 4,300.

Although these 88 investments represented the lowest number of jobs created or safeguarded since 1992/93, they also represented the 7th highest total number of projects since 1991.

Pie chart shows 38 inward investments in West Midlands metropolitan areas and 49 inward investments in the shire counties over 2009 to 2010Inward investment is usually spread reasonably evenly between the West Midlands metropolitan areas and the shire counties. In 2009/10 the shire counties attracted the majority of inward investment projects (55%). See left.

However, the metropolitan areas of Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton have attracted perhaps just over half of the projects over the years – see below. The number of jobs created and safeguarded also generally follows a similar pattern.

Stacked bar chart shows percentage of inward investments into West Midlands metropolitan areas versus shire counties between 1991 and 2010

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Solihull wins national award for cross-sector partnership work

Compact Week 2009 logo

The Compact Plus for Solihull was among the winners at this week’s national Annual Compact awards.

Sir Bert Massie, Commissioner for the Compact, announced the winners at a ceremony in London, held during Compact Week.

Solihull won the Local Compact of the Year award for its attempts to reinvigorate a Local Compact agreement that was largely ignored. The Compact Plus for Solihull 2008-2013 (pdf, 725kb), an agreement to improve relations between the Solihull Partnership and the third sector, was officially launched in December 2008.

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Future proofing rural communities in Warwickshire

Warwickshire Rural Community Council logoWarwickshire’s rural dwellers are being encouraged to move to the forefront of the battle to address climate change by creating a ‘cheaper, greener, more sustainable’ future for their countryside communities.

Warwickshire Rural Community Council (WRCC) says that, historically, rural communities have always been willing to embrace change and see the strong community spirit at the heart of many villages as key to their future success.

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Observatory collaborates with CSWP to develop new sub-regional strategy

cswp-logoThe Observatory is pleased to continue our long standing links with the Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire Partnership (CSWP) through a forthcoming project aimed at exploring future economic prospects for the sub-region.

We were commissioned in 2007 to deliver an initial economic assessment for CSWP. This report provided CSWP with a review of the strengths and weaknesses in the wider socio-economic environment for the sub-region as well as outlining future opportunities and threats.

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Latest gross disposable household income estimates indicate metropolitan West Midlands is UK’s poorest sub-region

Office for National Statistics logoThe 2007 Regional Gross Disposable Household Income (GDHI) (Word, 411KB) estimates are released today by the Office for National Statistics.

Indexed GDHI per head (where UK=100) for the West Midlands in 2007 was 90, stable in comparison to the revised 2006 index value of 90.

GDHI per head in the West Midlands rose from £12,700 in 2006 to £12,900 in 2007, an increase of 1.9%, in line with the increase seen in England and the UK.

Gross Disposable Household Income (GDHI) per head is preferred to Gross Value Added (GVA) per head as a measure of economic welfare.

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West Midlands local development annual monitoring reports

The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 requires local planning authorities to regularly monitor planning policies that affect the planning and development of their areas.

Each council is required to produce an Annual Monitoring Report which is published in December to assess the effectiveness of policy in the Local Development Framework.

These show whether the progress towards targets and milestones in the Local Development Framework are being met and whether council planning policies are being successfully implemented. If policies are not working as intended – or are not achieving sustainable objectives – the Annual Monitoring Report includes suggested actions.

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West Midlands produced 3rd strongest regional growth in England, according to latest GVA per head figures

Land Rover production lineThe 2007 Regional and 2006 Sub-Regional Gross Value Added (GVA) data are released today by the Office for National Statistics. Indexed GVA per head (where UK=100) for the West Midlands in 2007 was 86.0, a marginal decrease from the revised 2006 index value of 86.1. GVA per head in the West Midlands rose from £16,300 in 2006 to £17,200 in 2007, an increase of 5.3% compared to a 5.3% increase in GVA per head across the UK, and a 5.4% increase in England.

In the latest data for 2007 the West Midlands in regards to GVA per head is ranked seventh amongst the nine English regions, where London is the strongest performer at £30,400 and the North East is the least strong at £15,700. In total, regional GVA for the West Midlands in 2007 was £92.4bn, an increase of £4.9bn on the revised figures for 2006.

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Sharing intelligence from Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire

Yesterday, I attended the Coventry, Solihull and Wawickshire Researchers’ Forum to demonstrate the Observatory’s Resource Catalogue and show how the data and intelligence in the catalogue might support the work that they’re engaged in, and also to encourage further contributions to the catalogue from members of the forum to help share their data and intelligence across the region and sub-region.

The Resource Catalogue is available through the Observatory’s website and collects research, data and policy documents from across the West Midlands to create a fully searchable database for policy makers, decision makers, researchers and anyone else to access. There are contributions from organisations across the public, private and third sectors and what is particularly useful is that almost all are free and available immediately via a web-link.

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West Midlands Regional Integrated Economic Assessment published

Map of West Midlands regionThe West Midlands is the first English region to produce a Regional Integrated Economic Assessment. The aim of the project is to provide an assessment of the performance of the West Midlands’ economy and of the factors which contribute to it. It also assesses the relative position of the different parts of the region.

The Assessment is made up of:

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Local Area Agreements: The next generation

In June 2008, 150 new Local Area Agreements (LAA) were signed off by central government. A Local Area Agreement is a three year agreement, based on local Sustainable Community Strategies, that sets out the priorities for a local area.

The 14 strategic authorities in the West Midlands each have a Local Area Agreement.

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Life expectancy in the West Midlands

A recent press release [no longer available online] from trade union GMB highlights the difference in life expectancy at birth across the West Midlands.

Women living in Solihull have the highest life expectancy in the region at 83.3 years with those living in Stoke-on-Trent having the lowest at 79.6.

For men, the difference is greater with those living in South Shropshire expected to live on average to 79.4 years of age, the longest in the West Midlands region. However those living in Sandwell have the lowest life expectancy – a full five years lower. Continue reading

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