Here’s an update on the headline activity since submission of the SEP at the end of March:
Business & Innovation
We are currently recruiting for a new Small Business Support Manager who will be in post early autumn and are working with the Government’s Business, Innovation and Skills department on simplifying and strengthening business support across Northamptonshire. The Northamptonshire Growth Hub - www.northamptonshiregrowthhub.co.uk - is a strong asset in this regard.
The four key sector groups in Food & Drink, High Performance Technologies, Logistics and Creative & Cultural will either be recruited or will meet by mid-September and our Internationalisation programme, incorporating the drive to attract new business investment into the county and encourage increased export by Northamptonshire companies, moves forward based on existing strong partnerships with organisations such as UKTI.
We will also commission a new Internationalisation Strategy and will again publish this in the Autumn.
NEP is also preparing a response to Government’s Science and Innovation Strategy Consultation and if you have any views on key issues that need to be fed back please email.
If you would like to know more about this part of the SEP, contact Tim Bagshaw, Head of Business Investment on 01604 6093892 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Employment & Skills
The Board has identified a number of key issues which it wishes to consider including how to extend engagement by businesses in apprenticeships and it is now exploring the Apprentice Training Agency/Group Training Associations (ATAs/GTAs)models in more detail.A small sub-Board is being formed to actively develop this thinking.
Members are also keen to develop a new model for information, advice and guidance (IAG), as a number of partners identified concerns around the effectiveness of this. A paper outlining how NEP working closely with partners could look to co-ordinate provision in Northamptonshire was considered by the Board and is now being further developed.
Procurement documents have now been prepared for the DWP and SFA opt-ins so that commissioning activity for the European Social Fund (ESF) programme can commence as soon as the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) Strategy is operational. These documents will be developed on an ongoing basis, prior to the ESF programme commencing.
Infrastructure & Connectivity
Following the announcement of funding for a number of key Northamptonshire transport projects, an immediate priority for the Infrastructure & Connectivity Strategy board is to work with partners to identify funding solutions for those remaining projects that were not funded via the Growth Deal.
In terms of sites and premises, addressing the need for a range of ready employment sites is a key priority, therefore the board will be looking at identifying interventions to support sites being brought forward.
Ensuring security and availability of energy remains a potential constraint on existing and new housing and employment development. NEP will be working with partners to commission a review of Northamptonshire’s energy resilience in the coming months.
The Housing Board agreed that it needs to focus on addressing issues related to housing supply, given the ambition to deliver 37,000 new homes by 2021. The Sustainable Urban Extensions (SUEs) were identified as critical to this ambition and the Board agreed that work should be completed to map the current stage of development on each site and identify what was needed to accelerate development.
Board members also agreed that a Strategic Housing Action Plan (SHAP) should be developed for Northamptonshire which would consider the issues of affordability, housing need and responding to social and welfare responses – essentially addressing the right product at the right price in the right place that reflected the Board’s ambition for future housing.
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