Succeeding as a place, succeeding as a country

1. Summary of the Buckinghamshire proposition

The Buckinghamshire Growth Board is delighted to outline our ambitious proposition for a Recovery and Growth Deal for Buckinghamshire.

By giving Buckinghamshire the tools to accelerate recovery, this deal can add £10bn to the UK economy by 2050. We already have one of the strongest local economies in the UK, with high levels of GVA per capita and strengths in critical growth sectors for the future, with further untapped potential. Moreover, as England’s newest unitary authority, we have a uniquely integrated council, public service and business leadership, with coterminous Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Council, Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Healthcare Trust boundaries.

‘Our proposition will combine our economic and governance assets to enable Buckinghamshire to accelerate recovery.’

Our proposition will combine our economic and governance assets to enable Buckinghamshire to accelerate recovery, increase our net contribution to HM Treasury, re-train and re-skill our workforce impacted by COVID-19, and provide scalable and innovative solutions tested in Buckinghamshire to assist with national recovery.

It will:

  • support the national recovery and help realign the London and South East economy through repurposing our town centres and improving digital connectivity
  • front-load affordable, carbon-neutral and high-quality housing delivery
  • overcome emerging barriers to productivity growth
  • invest in the super growth sectors of the future
  • be a testbed for rapid pathways into future careers, including job matching, redeployment, and reskilling for those in shrinking markets such as ex Heathrow Airport, London Luton Airport and retail professionals to those in the actively recruiting sectors such as health and social care, IT and construction, creating an opportunity to trial levelling up approaches which can then be mainstreamed across England
  • reduce the health inequalities experienced and support the improvement of the physical and mental health and well-being of our residents and workforce

We now want to accelerate discussions with Government to deliver this

Our proposals for increasing national wealth are based on maximising employment opportunities supported by better digital and physical infrastructure; having an approach to skills that supports our key sectors, creates opportunities for our recently unemployed, and tackles our age-old skills gaps, and developing a greener housing offer that can be delivered quickly and is cheaper to run.

Key elements of the proposition include:

  • expanding and developing the Buckinghamshire Growth Board as the Board responsible for the governance and delivery of this Deal
  • establishment of a new Housing Investment Board with Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) powers, borrowing, funding and permitted development land, freedoms and powers, thereby providing locally-led remedies to housing delivery barriers
  • allocation from Government of a £100m Single Pot Housing Investment Fund to deliver planned, affordable, carbon-neutral housing and associated infrastructure which enhances the quality of housing delivered, enables higher levels of affordable and key worker housing, and where front-funding of infrastructure accelerates housing delivery
  • control of a £400m Single Pot Investment Fund, over 30 years, to accelerate investment and unlock opportunity through the planned delivery of a long-term strategic infrastructure programme
  • provision of a £60m Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund to enable Buckinghamshire to operate as a fully connected rural economy with every premise connected to gigabit-capable broadband
  • establishment of a Local Evaluation Framework co-designed with HM Treasury to assess the interventions and investments funded by the Investment Fund
  • devolution and expansion of the Adult Education Budget to enable accelerated additional reskilling and training to meet local demand by working with local education providers and the Buckinghamshire Skills Advisory Panel to develop accelerated learning in key growth areas
  • work with government to streamline the approach for local delivery of national employment programmes such as Kickstart
  • devolution and reform of the Apprenticeship Levy to one that is locally determined and delivered, ensuring that it is responsive to our large proportion of micro and SME business needs which are key to future jobs growth, particularly in the green economy
  • freedom to invest the Levy to establish a county-wide Apprenticeship Training Agency with a Buckinghamshire Skills Fund providing bursaries and loans and brokering apprenticeship relationships with SMEs
  • opportunity to be a pilot skills response testbed to trial new models, systems and projects, tailored to the post-COVID-19 economy, before they are rolled out in other places to help drive levelling up
  • increase and retain Business Rates by attracting new businesses to the area, developing commercial space and supporting our existing businesses to grow