A framework for how Bath & North East Somerset Council will improve the local economy for the benefit of everyone has been set out in a report that is set to go before the Corporate Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel on Tuesday, 14th November
The draft Bath & North East Somerset Council Economic Strategy sets out a new approach to local economic development and prioritises meeting the needs of residents and places whilst reducing impacts on the natural resources and environment.
Councillors who sit on the cross-party panel will scrutinise and give their feedback on the report, which is titled Building the Bath & North East Somerset New Economy.
The draft strategy has been built on the data contained in the Strategic Evidence Base and informed by consultation with partners, businesses and residents.
The report highlights that Bath and North East Somerset is home to significant academic, business, heritage and natural assets, making it a desirable place to live, study, visit and work. The 192,400 residents include a thriving student population and over 50% of working age residents have degree level or higher qualifications.
However, it also points out several key issues facing the local economy that need to be addressed such as lower than average wages that cannot keep up with the escalating costs of housing, lack of space for businesses to grow and low productivity. It outlines how the council is taking action to change this with an approach that draws on the principles of Doughnut Economics to deliver balanced action targeted at three broad areas: infrastructure, innovation and opportunity.
The strategy includes a focus on developing B&NES to be a broad green economy, a leader in green inclusive growth, and outlines how the council will work with businesses and enable local organisations to act on new market opportunities. This includes working with the West of England Combined Authority and regional partners: for example by supporting the work of Retrofit West in developing the business supply chain for retrofit across the district, with Retrofit Academy to help local people access training for careers in the sector, and working with schools, Bath College, independent training providers and the universities to promote awareness of green jobs and skills.
Councillor Paul Roper, cabinet member for Economic and Cultural sustainable Development, said: “Bath and North East Somerset is an economic success story with low overall levels of deprivation, a highly qualified workforce, low unemployment and growing business clusters in the creative and digital, advanced engineering and agriculture sectors.
"As set out in this draft strategy, though, there are a number of challenges facing our area, particularly the level of our wages when compared to house prices. This ambitious new strategy sets out a new approach to meeting these challenges through diversifying our economy, upping our skills and working with local businesses and key partners such as our two universities.”
The agenda for the Corporate Policy Development and Scrutiny (PDS) Panel and the draft Economic Strategy can be found on the council website.