LEP Chair reflects on 2018 and looks forward to 2019

Posted 24th December 2018
8 minutes read
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Well, 2018 has certainly been an eventful year domestically and internationally and this will no doubt continue well into 2019. But it has also been an outstanding year for the City Region, capped off this month with some of the best economic growth figures our region has seen for many years.

The uncertainty around the UK leaving the European Union is dominating the headlines and creating a challenging climate for business planning and investment. Many businesses have shared their concerns and frustrations with us and we have sought recently to bring as much clarity as we can to the potential implications of Brexit in our well-attended session with Prof. Anand Menon at the end of November. We will continue to do this over the coming months, so we can all be as prepared as possible for what lies ahead.

But we will not let this distract us from our primary goal of the inclusive growth of our City Region’s economy. From our extensive economic analysis and work with many partners across the region and not least those on our Sector Boards, we know that the City Region has outstanding capabilities and potential for growth. And so, it was brilliant to see the publication this month of the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures for 2017 which show that Liverpool City Region has the highest growth of any Combined Authority area in England, and alongside Cheshire & Warrington, we are the fastest growing LEP area in the country.

And, equally importantly, new employment data also shows an increase of 19,200 of our City Region’s residents in employment compared to the same period last year.  And, as identified by the Annual Scaleup Review, our City Region is now home to 8,000 more employees in scaleup businesses than at this time last year.

This outstanding rate of growth marks a significant milestone in the development of our City Region and speaks volumes about the increasing vibrancy of our economy and our capacity for growth. More importantly it demonstrates just what a compelling place this is to invest and do businesses and what can be achieved through effective collaboration and partnership.

Our collective ambition over the coming years, working in partnership with colleagues in businesses, in education and the third sector, with the Combined Authority and Local Authorities, is to drive our City Region’s growth even further and more inclusively.  

So, looking back on the 2018 I’m delighted to reflect on some significant achievements and initiatives by the LEP and its partners. These include:

  • The establishment of a Careers Hub for 34 local schools to promote the opportunities for employment and learning across the City Region for thousands of young people.
  • Support for over 3,000 local businesses to grow through the Local Growth Hub, working with our partner organisations
  • Establishment of a North West Energy Hub to provide advice, support and leadership to energy projects in the City Region and across the North West
  • Helped secure and support UK’s Digital Manufacturing Week in Liverpool for a second year where the £20 million Made Smarter programme was launched with our help
  • Business Leaders Inward investment delegation to India to explore opportunities with Indian firms and investors around the Future-Tech festival.
  • Produced a business review with partners of the City Region’s Professional and Business Services (PBS) Sector setting out analysis and priorities for growth
  • Produced the City Region’s first Internationalisation Strategy with the Combined Authority and a wide range of public and private sector partner.
  • The City Region’s visitor economy has also achieved another year of unprecedented growth and the LEP continues to work closely with Visit Britain on the tourism sector deal which is due to be approved early in the New Year.
  • Delivering an Insights Programme of events for businesses providing the latest thinking, experts and insights into some of the key business issues over the past year including our First Annual Conference and the 2018 Digital Summit.

This year also saw us welcome new board members to the main LEP Board and the Health and Life Science Board. These appointments have brought a wealth of knowledge and experience for the benefit of the City Region.

Looking forward to 2019, the next phase of work for us is to implement the changes from the LEP Review. The review will increase the level of co-operation and collaboration between the LEP and Combined Authority whilst preserving the independence of the LEP and its Chair.

The key priority for us in 2019 will be working with the Combined Authority to implement the One Front Door for investment for the City Region and through this deliver the Internationalisation Strategy and leverage the Liverpool Brand Narrative work.

2019 will also see the LEP continue to support the Combined Authority in producing a Local Industrial Strategy that will see us build on our competitive strengths, assets and opportunities. 

We will also continue to further strengthen and develop the City Regions key growth sectors and drive forward new business support and growth initiatives with partners. 

These are exciting times for our City Region. With the support and engagement of our partners and stakeholders a great deal has been achieved in the last few years, and the hard work of many has turned into the reality of hard economic growth, benefiting many thousands of our local residents and businesses.

We must now turn our attention to the future and how we turn our visions and ambitions into reality through effective and targeted interventions. The continued engagement and support for the LEP in driving the economy of the City Region will help us deliver a clear, strong and united approach across the whole of our exceptional City Region.