Annex C: Ayrshire Pathfinder
With a population of 370,000 and annual GVA of £6.4 billion, Ayrshire plays an important role in the Scottish economy and there are substantial strengths on which to build, particularly around life sciences, aerospace and costal assets. Ayrshire also offers significant further potential to contribute to Scotland's economic ambitions in a way which boosts regional growth and improves local outcomes.
East, North and South Ayrshire have been working together, and with the agencies and other key partners, to maximise these strengths through developing proposals for an Ayrshire Growth Deal. They are in discussion with both the Scottish and UK Government on these proposals. The Ayrshires have agreed, as part of the strategic business case for the Growth Deal, to explore and develop proposals for regional shared delivery arrangements to drive economic growth in the region.
An established culture of partnership working in Ayrshire extends beyond the public sector. Groups like the Ayrshire Economic Partnership are providing a strong private sector voice in shaping the development and delivery of regional enterprise and skills support. Sectoral groups like the Ayrshire Engineering Alliance and Prestwick Aerospace Partnership also facilitate public-private sector collaboration on areas of economic strength in the region.
Increasing inclusive growth is a core principle underpinning the projects developed as part of the Ayrshire Growth Deal proposals, with the work guided by an agreed vision for Ayrshire to be:
" A vibrant, outward looking, confident region, attractive to investors and visitors, making a major contribution to Scotland's growth and local well-being, and leading the implementation of digital technologies and the next generation of manufacturing."
Ayrshire was therefore an ideal location for a regional partnership pathfinder to further explore how locally led regional activity can drive inclusive growth across Scotland.
Building on the Growth Deal work the pathfinder is considering what is best delivered at local, regional and national levels. The pathfinder has also involved utilising an inclusive growth diagnostic approach to systematically investigate the constraints to growth and inclusion in the region. Early evidence from the diagnostic highlights potential priorities at all levels. These priorities will be explored with businesses and wider stakeholders in Ayrshire and will support development of proposals a Regional Partnership might deliver.
The inclusive growth work at the Ayrshire level is on-going, but emerging constraints and opportunities include: improving physical and mental health outcomes; stimulating local, quality job creation; creating an "Ayrshire offer" for inward investment; achieving a sustainable working population; and improving population skills, including softer skills and digital literacy.
Partners recognise the potential importance of a Growth Deal in establishing the ambition, scale, acceleration, resource and governance which can drive a step change in economic outcomes across Ayrshire. Partners also acknowledged that while a Growth Deal could be a key element of a regional partnership, other complementary activity will be required to maximise the impact of improved joined-up working across the region. The inclusive growth diagnostic is valuable in shaping the broader scale of collaborative potential the pathfinder is exploring.
As the pathfinder develops this wider ambition will be integrated with Ayrshire Growth Deal proposals. Work on the pathfinder is ongoing and the Councils and other stakeholders involved will consider the detailed options arising from this work and decide how best to move forward.