The aim of our Enterprise and Skills Review has been to enhance the system of support for enterprise, skills, investment and innovation. We want a system that contributes to a step-change in Scotland's economic performance. Recognising the importance of supporting regional economies we will ensure that the needs of Regional Partnerships are aligned and integrated with the wider implementation of the Enterprise and Skills Review.
Phase 1 of the Review committed to establishing a new Strategic Board to deliver greater collaboration, innovation and common purpose across the agencies. The role and operation of the new Strategic Board is set out in more detail elsewhere  . Its structure is described in the diagram below. It will have an important role in aligning activity across the whole enterprise and skills system to drive a step change in performance, locally, regionally and nationally. As an early task it will consider and report on opportunities for national and regional structures to work together more effectively to deliver the step change necessary for Scotland to become a top performing OECD country.
Figure 3 - Structure of Strategic Board
Regional data requirements will be considered as part of the work of the analytical unit supporting the new strategic board. This will build on existing regional data, like that utilised in Regional Skills Assessments delivered by SDS, and will sit alongside the development of an asset register to identify the spatial distribution of economic, education and skills assets across Scotland.
Regional partnerships will also need good data and intelligence and we will work with others, including universities with particular strengths in regional economics, to consider how best to establish a data hub which regional partnerships may use in analysing their local circumstances, compiling their plans and managing their activities. This will also look at the most appropriate ways to measure impact complementing the Scottish Government Inclusive Growth Diagnostic and forthcoming measurement framework and will include opportunities for knowledge exchange.
The Scottish Government will align itself to work effectively across regions with a clear understanding of the strengths and opportunities at a regional level. We are looking at options for strategic spatial planning to ensure that it best serves the need to drive inclusive and sustainable economic growth across Scotland. Future iterations of the National Planning Framework could support this by including greater coverage of regional priorities. We will continue to consider the relationships between regional partnerships and strategic planning as we develop proposals for a Planning Bill.
We also intend that stakeholders across Scotland, including at regional level will be given a greater say in influencing the development of transport policy. This will influence the transport system for the whole of Scotland over the next 20 or so years. It will also consider regional transport governance.
To further strengthen the regional voice in strategic economic and business support policy development we will ensure that regional partnerships are represented at the National Economic Forum which facilitates discussion between Ministers and senior business leaders on issues of strategic economic importance.
Our agencies are committed to ensuring that the needs of existing and emerging Regional Partnerships are aligned and integrated with the wider implementation of the Enterprise and Skills Review. Utilising their expertise and experience they have played an important role in shaping how Regional Partnerships can deliver the maximum impact locally, regionally and nationally. To support Regional Partnerships in an operational context our Enterprise and Skills Review will engage effectively across Scotland. Their contribution to this project indicates they can - and want to - do more to respond more flexibly to local and regional needs.
Moving forward they will:
- Ensure issues of regional equity are taken into account in project appraisal and business planning and that activity regularly reviewed against regional and inclusive growth impacts.
- Ensure national products or services are tailored to regional conditions, making sure they both contribute to national strategies and dovetail with local delivery.
- Proactively engage with regional partnerships, offering clarity on the resources deployed in a region and discussing regional priorities.
- Support the development of a regional asset register to inform, amongst other things, regional economic strategies and set out agreed roles for agencies in support of these.
- Collaborate with the private sector, local and regional partners to produce Investment Plans and Regional Skills Assessments.
- Convene regional economic forums to ensure on-going private sector engagement with regional partnerships.
- Establish a strategic location director approach to lead and shape national agency engagement with regional partnerships.
The Scottish Government will invite local authorities to consider how their economic development activity contributes at local, regional and national level and how this can best be developed in line with the principles of the Christie Commission. Our shared ambition is to see tangible progress on inclusive growth and the Scottish Government will welcome proposals that demonstrate how advancements can be made at pace.
The Government's support for partnerships will be focused on facilitation and alignment. We will ensure that the needs of existing Regional Partnerships are aligned and integrated with the wider implementation of the Enterprise and Skills Review  .
For example the need for consideration of regional equity in agency business planning is recognised in the Business Support project .The new analytical unit  will work with local and regional structures to ensure a coherent evidence base for the whole system. The International Project recognises the importance of coordination and cooperation at local, regional and national levels and the Skills Alignment project sets out an aim for SDS and SFC to focus support on the user, balancing national priorities with regional ambitions.
We will map the development of Regional Partnerships and encourage new locally led activity to address any geographical gaps. Over time we want a pan-Scotland network to emerge, delivering at local, regional and national levels. Working with our partners in local government and more broadly, we will develop plans for every community to be represented by a regional partnership on the economy in their area. We will work with COSLA and the Scottish Local Authorities Economic Development group ( SLAED) to support this at local level and with the Strategic Board to ensure this network is able to deliver its full potential, supported by the Enterprise and Skills Agencies.
We will foster a collaborative environment across these regional partnerships by building inclusive networks. This will enable representatives of each regional partnership to come together to discuss challenges, share experiences and learn from each other.
Sharing of best practice and promoting the benefits of regional partnerships will encourage a deepening of partnership working. This will be supported by using the Scottish Government website to host information on the aims and successes of regional partnerships.
Developing effective regional partnerships with a focus on place, can and should support and deliver transformational economic and inclusive growth locally, regionally and nationally. These actions will help make that happen.
Conclusion and next steps
The Scottish Government has long recognised the importance of thinking about and addressing regional challenges and opportunities. There are already formal structures such as HIE which are designed to meet the requirements of particular regions of Scotland and our commitment to a new South of Scotland agency will expand this provision further. However to complement these, and deliver improved inclusive economic outcomes across their regional economies we see a need to support and encourage the development of regional economic partnerships which, building and expanding on the experiences, structures and learning from City Deals, are self-assembled and tailored to the bespoke requirements of each region.
We will do this by working with public, private and third sector partners to:
- Welcome the development of self assembled, bespoke regional economic partnerships.
- Ensure our Economic Agencies tailor their products and services to regional conditions and work constructively with partnerships.
- Utilise the inclusive growth model to inform the prioritisation of projects within city and regional growth deals, and ensure this is reflected in annual monitoring reports.
- Ensure partnerships provide evidence of clear leadership, strategy, understanding and purpose.
- Ensure private sector representation on regional partnerships where Government investment is sought.
- Establish a data hub to enable robust analysis and impact measurement for regional partnerships.