Regional Economic Partnerships (REPs) are collaborations between local government, the private sector, education and skills providers, enterprise and skills agencies, and the third sector.
The Scottish Government acknowledges that REPs bring together regional interests, focussing and aligning resources, sharing knowledge, and identifying new plans to accelerate inclusive economic growth at a local, regional, and national level.
There are currently 8 REPs and 12 City Region and Growth Deals in Scotland. The eight REPs are as follows:
Edinburgh and the South East of Scotland
Glasgow City Region
Highlands & Islands
South of Scotland
It’s important to note that whilst we refer to REPs at a national level, this is a blanket term with each partnership having its own terminology.
With Inclusive Growth forming a central tenet of Scotland’s economic strategy, policy makers have begun to focus on reducing the economic and social inequalities which exist between Scotland’s regions.
As a geographically diverse nation, the importance of local involvement in reducing these disparities cannot be overstated; Scotland’s island and rural communities often face entirely different challenges to the urban heartlands of the central belt, and a tailored approach is needed to tackle these inequalities.
REPs facilitate this by identifying shared goals between local government, community organisations, and prominent economic actors in the area, and are able to provide a collaborative platform which supports local ambitions and the unique circumstances in each community.
The success of the regional approach to economic development was evident from the early Deals, and Phase 2 of the Enterprise and Skills Review (2017) committed the Scottish Government to enabling a network of REPs across the country.
Partnerships have emerged via City Region and Growth Deal activity, in order to build on the success of the investment in the region. Most REPs have now either formed, or are in the process of forming, a Regional Economic Strategy that contains a programme of work that will be taken forward within the region over the long- term.
Where there are 12 Deals, there are only 8 REPs. The rationale for differentiation has typically been due to close links to other local authorities not included in a region’s Deal, whether this be similar economic strengths and challenges or travel-to-work overlaps. REPs formed organically and Scottish Government does not dictate membership or activity.