Decision Maker: Overview & Scrutiny Committee
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
The committee received an overview from the Director of Strategy on the Consultation for the West Midlands Industrial Strategy. The West Midlands agreed to be a trailblazer and develop the UK’s first Local Industrial Strategy. It was noted that the consultation document was not designed as a draft version on the strategy but to gather discussion, set out the issues and key opportunities for the region.
Consultation feedback so far suggested that:
· there was insufficient emphasis on drawing out employment needs and how that factored into plans;
· there needed to be more clarity on the needs of different areas ;
· the needs of rural areas needed to be addressed more;
· Brexit would need to be addressed explicitly within the final version.
The Local Industrial Strategy would be taken to the Strategic Economic Delivery Board and WMCA Board for sign off in January 2019. Following a request from the Chair the Director of Strategy agreed to circulate the Terms of Reference and membership of the Strategic Economic Delivery Board. In terms of governance of this committee, the Economy Portfolio did not have a delivery board therefore the chair of the Governance Working Group, Councillor John Cotton, agreed to revisit the governance arrangements to find the appropriate structure.
Councillor John Cotton asked for confirmation of the definition of ‘inclusivity’ in terms of this strategy, and how this linked to WMCA activities. The Director of Strategy confirmed joint work was being undertaken with the Director of Public Services Reform to unlock the potential to have a positive impact on the economy.
With regards to long-standing productivity problems in the region, the Director of Strategy highlighted that national work was being undertaken to better understand the productivity puzzle. The Committee shared concerns around the need to access education and the need to address this further, as well as funding being channelled to those most in need and to areas of deprivation. Councillor Jackie Taylor emphasised the need to ensure diversity occurs across all job levels to ensure individuals feel they had contributed and added value.
The Chair expressed his concern that, as an emerging sector artificial intelligence and robotics had not been identified within the consultation document. He also felt that the final strategy document should try to re-balance the income disparities in different parts of the region by encouraging, or focusing, investment in such ‘high-tech’ industries within areas of greater deprivation.
It was recommended to the WMCA Board:
(1) That the comments made by the Committee be noted.
Publication date: 03/01/2019
Date of decision: 26/11/2018
Decided at meeting: 26/11/2018 - Overview & Scrutiny Committee