Agenda item

Inclusive Growth Strategy Update

To consider the report of the Chief Officer Culture and Economy introducing the new Leeds Inclusive Growth Strategy 2023 – 2030. The Inclusive Growth Strategy has been updated to reflect the changed economic, political, social and environmental context whilst maintaining a focus on economic growth that benefits everyone and was approved by Executive Board on 20th September 2023.



The Chief Officer Culture and Economy submitted a report to the Committee outlining the recently launched Inclusive Growth Strategy 2023-2030.


In attendance;

Eve Roodhouse – LCC Chief Officer Culture and Economy

Fiona Bolam – LCC Head of Economic Policy

Vince McCabe, programme lead of clean growth and innovation, West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA)

Mark Casci, West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce (WNYCC)

Mark Goldstone – Confederation of British Industry (CBI)

Mattie Yeta CGI (Consultants to Government and Industry Incorporated)

Olivia Smith CGI


The Inclusive Growth Strategy was previously considered to the Committee in November 2022 during the development of the strategy.


The impact of the 2008 recession was noted as having had a large impact on health inequality in the city, and the aim for the Inclusive Growth Strategy is that economic growth in Leeds will benefit everyone.


The Chief Officer Culture and Economy outlined the framework of the Inclusive Growth Strategy, which has nine ‘Big Ideas’ set within three themes; people, place and productivity.


People – A focus on upskilling and reskilling in order to increase the green skilled workforce needed to deliver net zero. This will include supporting career advice services across Leeds. There is an expectation that net zero will deliver new and better quality jobs to the West Yorkshire region.


Place – Key work has included investing in places and transport, the Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS), PIPES District heating scheme, net zero homes, woodland creation, Electric Vehicle (EV) infrastructure and support and green spaces.


Productivity – Leeds Anchor Network, a network between the largest Leeds employers has been developed. Support for businesses and organisations is a key part of the Strategy, particularly for them to futureproof. Green finance was highlighted as a particular strength of Leeds.


Additionally the Strategy seeks to build sustainability into the tourism, major events, venues, museums, art spaces, cultural and creative sectors.


Following the Chief Officer Culture and Economy’s presentation, the following external speakers were invited to speak;


Mattie Yeta provided the Committee with an overview of the Sustainability Exploration Environmental Data Sciences (SEEDS) programme at CGI. The work utilises data science with social and environmental concerns. A brief oversight of the diverse work programme CGI has undertaken was provided to the Committee, including work on Smart agriculture, green finance, water management, pollution, circular economy, violence against women and girls and other social value works. Work of particular note included the use of infrared and “Digital Twin” to provide vegetation insights. The use of AI and machine learning will continue to predict trends up to 2030, and along with green software and blockchain technologies provide growth areas for the Leeds city region. Additionally CGI is a partner within the Smart Meters programme.


The Chief Officer Culture and Economy noted that the digital sector is one of the fastest growing within the Leeds city region, with notable work including the use of banking cards to offset carbon emissions.


Mark Goldstone for CBI provided the Committee with an overview of the support businesses require to be able to adapt to the climate emergency. The CBI position is that governmental policy needs to be stable and long term. A package of support for businesses could include financial support and tax breaks, with a long term strategy for replacing the tax income from road revenues which would incentivise investment in the sector. Planning reform was also identified as key as it was reported that 40% of major infrastructure applications were delayed, and delays in processing applications for new developments to join  the National Grid were also noted as having a negative impact on business growth in the region.


Mark Casci for WYNCC outlined the challenges facing the smaller businesses they support, most of which employ under 50 people. Whilst many are keen to improve their sustainability, there is a lack of quality and consistent information, as well as a frequently changing policy landscape which deters investment. Only 1 in 10 business leaders within this sector know the precise definition of climate change due to inconsistent messaging from the public sector, 78% of businesses who work with the WYNCC have already invested to become more climate friendly. The cancellation of the HS2 programme was noted as having had a notable impact on these businesses however, which has reduced the amount available for future environmental investment.


Vincent McCabe (WYCA) advised the committee of support provided by WYCA for businesses within West Yorkshire for addressing the climate emergency. WYCA has transitioned from named programmed support of businesses to a more generic approach, as tracking different programme names becomes hard for businesses to track. Small businesses are encouraged to contact WYCA for personalised support to identify climate objectives suitable for their business, and find the right package of support to deliver that. Business support includes a wraparound package of peer learning and support and signposting to relevant partner organisations such as Rural England.



Following the presentations from the Chief Officer Culture and Economy and the external speakers, there followed a discussion with the Committee, with the following highlights;


Skills – The Committee and speakers noted that developing skills within West Yorkshire has been discussed within the region for a long time, and that the conversation needs to move on. The promotion of Green skills must include both sustainability professionals who have a depth of knowledge and technical skills, as well as green skills being required amongst all workers, in a similar way to how digital skills in all sectors have expanded. Businesses are encouraged to liaise with schools regarding schools visits and engagement to help pupils understand the importance of and opportunities for green skills in the job market.


SPI Indicators – The SPI (Social Progress Index) was discussed regarding the inclusion of specific environmental indicators, and the Committee was advised that the SPI is an internationally standardised framework with data quality standards which limits which indicators can be used. A forward programme of future indicators regarding climate change will be designed when resources permit.


Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) - The Chief Officer Culture and Economy advised the Chair on potential avenues for assisting with the ABCD agenda, particularly for activities such as community growing and will provide the Committee with a considered approach such as liaising with business and with colleagues in Asset Management.


RECOMMENDATIONS – That the contents of the report and discussions be noted.

Supporting documents: