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A refreshed SEP to reflect changing times

Richard Baker, Head of Strategy and Policy at the North East LEP, gives an update on the refresh of our Strategic Economic Plan.

The North East Strategic Economic Plan – or SEP for short – is the region’s road map to economic success.

It is our medium-term economic plan for the North East LEP area.

It sets out clearly how the LEP and the North East Combined Authority support economic growth and details the advice we give to Government about the most important investments needed for our area.

The SEP focuses on the sectors and areas that make our regional economy tick: innovation, business support and access to finance, skills, employability and inclusion, economic assets and infrastructures and transport and digital connectivity.

Like all plans setting out a course of action to reach milestones further down the road, it needs updating to reflect changing times.

The original SEP was unveiled back in March 2014.

It was born out of the evidence base of the Adonis Review of 2012 – and the data which underpinned that report was from two years previous.

The economic data in the current SEP is based on a period when we emerged from recession rather than where we are at now.

A series of new policy documents will impact our future economic planning and decision-making – a national innovation plan, new national infrastructure commission and an emerging devolution deal.

In the light of these shifting sands, the North East LEP board has agreed with the North East Combined Authority that now is the right time to look again at parts of the SEP, taking into account new evidence of the region’s economic position and evolving public policy environment.The SEP refresh is just that.

Not a rewrite, but a look again at how we reach our ambitious target of creating an extra 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024.

We are hard at work on this process.

We are examining with sharp focus our opportunities to be competitive nationally and internationally in the smart specialisation areas and growth sectors.

These are passenger vehicle manufacture, subsea, marine and related advanced manufacturing, life sciences and health and creative, digital software and technology based services.

We are looking to see high levels of productivity in these areas and to work out our position within the Northern Powerhouse to ensure we have the strong profile our region needs to seize maximum advantage from the opportunities it presents.

The views of stakeholders are crucial to our refresh work. They will contribute substantially to the evidence base, credibility and application of the SEP.

We’ll be seeking the views of business, the public and third sectors at a series of workshops running either side of the EU referendum during the summer.

There will also be an online survey for people to feed their views into the refresh process.

Details of how stakeholders can take part in the SEP refresh will coincide with the launch of our engagement activity in June and more information about how businesses can input will be available soon.

These views will be fed into the work to create an updated SEP which will be unveiled later this year.

Two other important pieces of work will support this refresh.

One is an economic analysis paper, which has been independently verified and looks at where we are now, compared to then back in 2014 and the next steps the region needs to take. We would encourage businesses to get in touch if they have more research or evidence to strengthen the economic analysis paper we have produced.

The second is a progress review of SEP delivery to date to show what has been done set against the SEP’s original plans.

The progress review looks right across leadership and governance structures, programme development, resource acquisition and investment.

Our aim with stakeholders is to provide the North East LEP area – from County Durham to the Northumberland – with an updated strategic economic plan which better reflects today while future proofing for tomorrow.

Richard Baker

Head of Strategy and Policy

North East Local Enterprise Partnership

[email protected]