To provide an update to Performance Monitoring Panel on current work being undertaken to support the South Holland economy (report of the Acting Executive Director enclosed).
Consideration was given to the report of the Acting Executive Director, which provided an update to the Panel on current work being undertaken to support the South Holland economy.
The Inward Investment Manager gave an update on this item, and the following points were covered:
· The team had continued to concentrate on the delivery of the Government’s Covid-19 business grants (the Local Restrictions Support Grants, the Open but Impacted discretionary grant programme and the Restart Grant). The schemes had drawn to a close, and a total of 5544 payments totalling £30,519,323 had been distributed to South Holland businesses since the start of the first lockdown in March.
· In November 2020, SHDC was allocated £2,774,439 in Additional Restrictions Grant Funding. The report detailed how the authority had used the money to support businesses.
· As restrictions eased, face to face visits with businesses had resumed.
· Construction on the first of the University buildings on the Food Enterprise Zone (FEZ) in Holbeach was now complete and had officially been handed over to the University, Construction on the second had begun, to be followed by a third building. Interest levels in sites remained high.
· Inward investment activity had been centred mostly around the FEZ. All plots on Phase 1 were already reserved or under offer, there was considerable interest in Phase 2 and there were already enquiries for office space in the hub building.
· The ERDF funded Grants4growth programme had continued to perform throughout the pandemic period and was on track to deliver all of its contracted outputs on time and within budget. It was still awaiting go-ahead for a further year’s extension.
· The Inward Investment Team were taking an active role in the business and economy element of the Spalding town centre work, and were also engaging with the Town Centre Steering Group and the Economy and Skills subgroup.
Members considered the information, and the following issues were raised:
· Members asked whether any businesses that had received grant funding, had subsequently closed.
o Officers were not aware of any and stated that despite the pandemic, reports had indicated that the South Holland economy had done well.
· It was confirmed that although there had been some movement on numbers of people claiming Universal Credit, the change was not significant.
· Members thanked the officers for the administration of grants and acknowledged they had been a lifeline for many businesses.
· Regarding the online job fair, members enquired whether data existed that gave information on job vacancies and the number of job seekers. Members also asked which schools had engaged with the Enterprise Advisor Network.
o Officers did not have this information to hand, and advised that they would circulate the information to members.
· Members asked about businesses that had been identified for the agri-food sector bid.
o Officers confirmed this was a package of funding from central government that businesses would be able to bid into as and when the funding was approved.
That the report be noted.