Agenda item

Inclusive Growth Update

To receive an update from the Chief Officer (Economy & Culture) on progress in delivering the ambitions of Leeds Inclusive Growth Strategy.


Information is also included in relation to the updated Social Progress Index 2024.


The Chair introduced the item noting that the refreshed Inclusive Growth Strategy had been launched in September 2023. Members were advised that the update at the meeting would therefore provide an outline of some of the progress made since September 2023 in relation to the themes of the Strategy and its nine ‘big ideas.’ However, a full ‘one year on’ update will be provided in the Autumn.


The Chair noted that members of the Scrutiny Board had also previously asked to be kept updated on the development of the social progress index and recent changes top this took had therefore also been included in the accompanying report. 


Individuals in attendance for this item were:


-  Cllr Jonathan Pryor (Executive Member)

-  Eve Roodhouse (Chief Officer, Culture and Economy)

-  Grahame Ponton (Senior Economic Development Officer)


Eve Roodhouse delivered an introductory presentation, which included:


-  National, regional and local economic context

-  Delivery highlights since September 2023 including the Leeds Apprenticeship Fair, which attracted 11,000 visitors in February 2024.

-  Inclusive Growth Partnership events and progress with the Leeds Anchors network

-  The increasingly embedded approach to using the SPI to inform Council policy.

-  Updates to Leeds Social Progress Index

-  The overall SPI score for Leeds, scores for individual wards and trends in the dimension scores.


Cllr Marshall-Katung welcomed the progress set out in the report and presentation. She noted that she and Cllr Shahzad had attended the Leeds Apprenticeship Recruitment Fair on behalf of the Scrutiny Board.


The Chair further noted a previous request to consider the Council’s approach to adult skills as part of the 2024/25 work programme. It was confirmed this would be included in an annual update on the Future Talent Plan.


Clarification was sought as to when a business would be judged to be in “critical financial distress” as per the report from Begbies Traynor Group.  


Further information was sought about the number of young people not in employment or education due to long-term health conditions, including a more detailed age profile and the predominant nature of the health conditions reported.


Officers committed to providing further information at a future meeting but confirmed that they anticipate a correlation between those figures and known areas of deprivation where key stage 3 attainment is lower than in other areas of the city and the number of young people is growing more rapidly.


Members queried how the Council could work with anchors to explore how best to tackle barriers to work for some people with long term health conditions. Eve Roodhouse confirmed that work has begun to explore correlations between employment data and health data to identify where additional support could be most effectively targeted.


Eve informed the Scrutiny Board that the Anchors Executive Group is already looking at ways to share best practice – for example, in relation to supporting employees with mental health concerns. 


The Scrutiny Board considered trends in productivity and queried whether a return to more office-based work could contribute to improving the city’s productivity. In response, it was Cllr Pryor highlighted that the Council needs to balance the benefits of people working together in an office with the need to be able to compete in a labour market where opportunities for flexible working are increasingly regarded as a significant benefit by employees.


In considering a new mass transit system in Leeds, members were assured that officers from Council teams including highways, regeneration and economic development were working with partners in West Yorkshire Combined Authority on the outline business case. It was noted that any mass transit system has a role in ensuring that businesses in Leeds can access a larger labour market to help drive economic growth.


Eve Roodhouse highlighted that private sector investors continue to show confidence in Leeds and that this is in part due to a consistent approach from the public sector to city development.


Members requested further information about the graduate retention levels at a future meeting.


Concern was expressed about the long-term impact on outer areas if resources are targeted at areas where the Social Progress Index suggest deprivation is highest. In response, Cllr Pryor reiterated that as part of its inclusive growth ambitions, the Council’s aim is to facilitate the delivery of amenities where they are needed most, and the SPI provides an evidence base to inform associated decision making. 


Reflecting on the drop in the index points for the dimension of ‘opportunity’, Eve noted that the period covered by the SPI now includes the years of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is anticipated that downward trends in the SPI scores are likely to reverse once later data can be taken into account.


The economic disbenefit from women being excluded from the workplace was explored with members noting that they would like to consider this in further detail at a future meeting.


Eve Roodhouse provided an overview of the Innovation Arc, its anticipated impact on productivity and ambitions for associated spatial planning.


The Chair thanked the team for their work and for the time presenting an update to the Scrutiny Board.




a)  Members noted progress made in delivering the collective ambitions set out in the Leeds Inclusive Growth Strategy.


b)  Members noted the updated Social Progress Index 2024.


c)  Members noted that a One Year On report to Executive Board setting out progress on the delivery of Inclusive Growth will be published in the autumn, with the option to also provide an update to this Scrutiny Board.


d)  Members expressed an interest in considering several issues in more detail during 2024/25 including young people not in education or employment due to long term health conditions, Women in Work, graduate retention levels in Leeds and the development of a Mass Transit system.


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