To provide background to the GBSLEP Route to Recovery process.
The report was provided to give background to the GBSLEP Route to Recovery process.
The Interim Chief Executive presented the report. Members were informed that GBSLEP had rapidly put in place a series of economic interventions driven by the Recovery Taskforce in order to support the economy, businesses and community. GBSLEP funding amounting to £3M was re-purposed in order to support businesses in a range of different ways, such as the Pivot and Prosper scheme. A series of sector recovery plans were also developed, which are regularly scrutinised by the Recovery Taskforce, and the sharing of data and intelligence across sectors to gain a better understanding of how the LEP can provide targeted support. Arising through the Recovery Taskforce and supported by the LEP Board is the Young Peoples Recovery Strategy. It was clear through the data available at an early stage of the pandemic that the pandemic was having a disproportionate impact on young people.
The GBSLEP Director for Economic Strategy further informed Members that the Pivot and Prosper programme was established with £2M of funding to support businesses with grants of up to £40,000, providing that the businesses met three criteria:
· They were small businesses (up to 100 employees)
· That they fitted in one of six priority sectors
· The grants could be used to innovate and grow the business and create and safeguard jobs.
The Pivot and Prosper programme achieved and delivered on the objectives detailed above quickly. The GBSLEP was of the opinion that it was important to undertake a robust evaluation of the Pivot and Prosper programme as to how it had been run and what success had been secured through the programme. An external evaluation was commissioned and undertaken. Some key findings arising from the review included the fifty grants awarded to businesses through the programme, which were spread across the six sectors as well as being geographically dispersed across the LEP area.
The level of match funding for the programme was reported to be 44%, which was a very healthy level of match funding (the minimum level for the programme having been set at 25% match funding). The grants were used in a variety of ways by the businesses concerned, but it was evident that businesses were keen to upgrade their digital services and applications (largely arising through the restrictions during the pandemic period on personal interactions and a greater move towards remote service delivery). The programme was successful in safeguarding jobs, with an additional 500 jobs generated (with a forecast of generating over 600 jobs) and retaining in the region of £30M GVA.
The programme evaluation was very positive. A number of lessons had been learned through the programme, such as suitability of project timescales for businesses, marketing and refining the programme criteria to ensure that they were aligned with the GBSLEP strategic priorities. The overwhelming conclusion was the Pivot and Prosper had provided excellent value for money and had delivered a number of significant successes. It was the LEP’s intention to facilitate another Pivot and Prosper programme.
Councillor Kriss welcomed the report and the success of the Pivot and Prosper programme and requested that any iterations of the programme in future be as widely publicised and marketed across the region as was possible.
Councillor Peaple questioned whether the safeguarding of jobs would continue to be a part of the LEP’s policy development going forward. Councillor Peaple further noted that significant value arising had been through the safeguarding of jobs in the low carbon sector and questioned what factors entailed low carbon businesses to struggle and seek help from the LEP in terms of securing jobs and did the factors causing such apparent insecurity influence what help was needed in successfully developing low carbon industries.
The Director for Economic Strategy advised that there were jobs requiring safeguarding and that the LEP provided support in such cases, but it was very likely that the LEP’s future focus would be more around job creation. In respect of jobs in the low carbon sector being impacted, some carbon assessment jobs had been impacted during the pandemic due to the loss of access to properties for non-essential visits for example. Members were further advised that some of the job roles were not within the low carbon sector itself, but rather a case of supporting organisations to move towards low carbon working practices.
Councillor Peaple questioned job security and financial support for the creative and cultural sector, and questioned whether the LEP was confident that the sector was adequately supported in this respect and that organisations that would not normally expected to be supported had actually received support through the pandemic period. It was agreed that a detailed response would be provided to Councillor Peaple outside of the meeting.
The Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP Joint Scrutiny Committee:
i. To note the model adopted through the establishment of the Recovery Taskforce, as detailed in Appendix A to the report; and,
ii. To note the process adopted for the evaluation of the Pivot and Prosper Intervention implemented as part of the Route to Recovery, as detailed in Appendix B to the report.