The £250m Ayrshire Growth Deal (AGD) will provide much-needed momentum to help propel forward economic growth across the area, although this will need to be supported fully by mainstream public sector expenditure and private sector investment if the gap between the Ayrshire economy and Scotland’s is to be significantly reduced.
Additionally, however, the AGD deal offers an opportunity to promote inclusive growth, and again Ayrshire performs poorly on many indicators of inclusivity and inequality relative to Scottish averages.
To help the drive towards inclusive growth, Scottish Enterprise and the University of Glasgow have undertaken to work with the 3 Ayrshire local authorities, national agencies and other local players to develop an Inclusive Growth Action Plan. The focus will be on two broad strands.
Actions to maximise the benefits flowing to more disadvantaged groups and communities of the work involved at the implementation stage of the AGD projects.
Actions to ensure that, when projects are completed, a significant proportion of the benefits associated with the services or other benefits provided through the projects over the long-term are enjoyed by the more disadvantaged groups and communities.
It is essential that the planning for maximising the benefits in terms of inclusivity is carried out now, and the measures required to bring together any necessary resource to implement that plan are then considered at an early stage.
The preparation of the Action Plan will involve the following steps.
Extensive work has previously been carried out using the Inclusive Growth Diagnostic, piloted in North Ayrshire then rolled out to Ayrshire as a whole. It is essential that the action plan builds on the results of the diagnostic process.
Each AGD project will be considered, with a view to identifying their potential for securing significant gains in terms of inclusion benefits for Ayrshire’s priority groups – both at the development and implementation stage, and over the long term when the projects have been delivered.
The next stage is to identify any new measures or interventions, or additions to existing relevant services, which will be required in order to unlock the maximum benefits from each project for Ayrshire’s more disadvantaged groups and communities.
Discussions will then be held in workshop settings with the key stakeholders to generate the detail in the Inclusive Growth Action Plan.
The plan will cover a period of 3–5 years, but will also identify a series of essential early actions. A process for overseeing and managing the implementation of the Action Plan will be developed.
The final element will be the specification of an outline monitoring and evaluation plan.
The development of the Plan will be led by Professor Alan McGregor from the Adam Smith Business School at the University of Glasgow, and will be completed by the summer of 2019.