Agenda item

Regional Economic Strategy Update - Verbal Update


The Committee received a presentation from SQW, an economic development consultancy firm appointed to carry out work on the South West Wales Regional Economic Delivery Plan (REDP). It was noted that in 2013, SQW worked with colleagues in South West Wales on the Economic Regeneration Strategy; and were re-appointed in 2021 to carry out work on the REDP, which replaces that earlier strategy.

The presentation provided Members with an overview of the content and purpose of the REDP, as well as an update on the Regions position 18 months on from the start of this work stream.

Members were informed that the REDP was developed in 2021, and approved by the South West Wales Corporate Joint Committee in March 2022. It was noted that when SQW were appointed to carry out this work, they were asked to prepare a document that looked towards 2030. The following statement was included within the plan to capture the purpose:

‘Set out the region’s ambitions for a resilient, broad-based and sustainable economy, and where efforts should be focused in the next few years to realise them’.

It was mentioned that SQW produced the plan in parallel with the Regional Economic Framework that was led by Welsh Government; the REDP largely informed the Regional Economic Framework, as it references the strategic content of the plan.

The Committee were informed of the approach taken from evidence to delivery of the plan:

·       Evidence and Landscape Review – this work started in early 2022 to capture issues, context, policy themes and a SWOT analysis of the regional economy. It was important to gather new evidence for the development of the REDP, due to the fast changing nature of evidence based work. This review was captured and published in its own document.

·       Regional Economic Delivery Plan – the evidence base work fed into the core strategy document and framework for action.

·       Project Pipeline Supplement – following the publication of the REDP, a third document was produced named the ‘Project Pipeline Supplement’. SQW had collated a series of project proposals, all of which were at various stages of development; the document set out a short summary business case for each project, on the basis that they could be reviewed and developed in response to future funding opportunities and the like.


When developing the REDP, three broad, overarching ambitions were set for the Region to be resilient and sustainable, enterprising and ambitious, and balance and inclusive; and within that content, three missions were set out within the plan:

1.    Establishing South West Wales as a UK leader in renewable energy, and the development of a net zero economy

2.    Building a strong, resilient and embedded business base

3.    Growing and sustaining the experience offer


It was noted that SQW consciously focused on the three missions, rather than taking a more traditional approach, in order to capture something that was distinctive to the Region; and to actively respond to the consultation, and the steer received from the four Local Authorities.

Members received further detail on each of the three missions, as set out in the presentation; each mission contained a series of high level action areas, formulated from the evidence based work. It was added that they were also developed to ensure they continued to have relevance over the intended time for this plan, which was up to the year 2030.

It was explained that there were a number of performance indicators set out within the REDP. The presentation detailed some of the indicators that could be measured 18 months on; however, it was acknowledged that local data wasn’t always reliable over a short time series. It was mentioned that there was a small decrease in greenhouse gas emissions; this figure was still much higher than the UK figures, however this was known to be due to TATA Steelworks. Reference was also made to the decrease in the number of jobs within the Region, which was noted could be a result of the way data was still being recorded as a result of the pandemic; it would be helpful to monitor these figures on an annual basis to get a more accurate understanding of the position.

Reference was made to the change in context since the work started in 2021. The following challenges and opportunities had not presented themselves at the time of the development of the REDP:


·       Weak outlook for UK growth

·       Cost of living pressures and the impacts on communities, confidence and overall investment

·       Pressures on public sector resources

·       Industrial restructuring risks



·       Designation of Freeport for Pembrokeshire and Neath Port Talbot

·       Continued policy commitment to net zero, especially from Welsh Government

·       Progress in bringing forward major projects with private sector leadership, with potential to augment the regional offer through investment zone designation

·       Strong partnership approach, as City Deal projects delivered and the South West Wales Corporate Joint Committee established


Following the presentation, a discussion took place in regards to the first mission contained with the REDP; referencing the key challenges associated with action area ‘building capacity and expertise to maximise renewable energy and net zero potential’. It was noted that some of the skills initiatives that were being taken forward by the Regional Learning and Skills Partnership would address some of the key challenges; however, achieving the mission would also come down to investment appetite and the confidence that the private sector has to invest. It was explained that the adoption of the first mission within the REDP, would require significant strategic leadership and investment due the competitive nature.