Driving Regional Inclusive Growth in a COVID-19 world

Fiona Hyslop MSP,  Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Fair Work and Culture

I’m really pleased that the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery report recognises the importance of place-based initiatives and the need to work with Regional Economic Partnerships, City Region and Regional Growth Deals, and local partners to continue embedding the styles of working enshrined in the Scottish Government’s Place Principle.

City Region and Regional Growth Deals, with £1.8bn investment from the Scottish Government, and the Regional Economic Partnerships (REPs) arising from them, are bringing together democratically elected local authorities, government and its  enterprise and skills agencies, and the private and third sectors, to plan economic development activity. REPs work strategically across functional economic geographies such as housing and labour markets and travel-to-work areas. This way of working is especially important as we together plan for economic recovery and long-term economic renewal, including a greener economy.

REPs and other regional collaborations in urban and rural Scotland can ensure that the pursuit of economic growth, including employment and productivity, appropriately considers inclusivity, sustainability and societal wellbeing, creating places in which people want to live, work, invest and visit.

For instance, the City Region and Regional Growth Deals contain regionally determined investment priorities with inclusivity and equalities at their core. In support the Scottish Government provided an Inclusive Growth Diagnostic Tool and Outcomes Framework, and significant advisory including a secondee from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

All of this has helped us make significant progress in delivering more inclusive growth and we are determined to do more. Community Wealth Building is a mechanism that I want to use more to advance higher proportions of spending and investment in local and regional economies that benefits local people and businesses. We have a strong record in Scotland of using procurement approaches that a diverse range of local organisations can benefit from, supporting fair work practices, and making investment decisions that benefit places in the longer-term. I want to build on this.

We are investing £3m in the Ayrshire Growth Deal to support the expansion of North Ayrshire’s Community Wealth Building work across the region, overseen by the Ayrshire REP.  I am also pleased to have Neil McInroy, the Chief Executive of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies, working with the Scottish Government on a part-time secondment to help support the further roll-out of this work. I look forward to working with Neil and with local and regional partners across Scotland to embrace the full potential of the approach.