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Councillors to consider delivery plan for County Durham's bold economic strategy

Published November 10, 2023 9.43am

The first phase of a long-term strategy to ensure County Durham has a thriving and inclusive economy will be considered by councillors next week.

The County Durham Inclusive Economic Strategy, developed by the County Durham Economic Partnership, sets out a bold and ambitious vision for the county's economy to 2035, creating the conditions for more and better jobs, where people live long, healthy and independent lives in strong, confident communities.

A delivery plan setting out how the strategy will be implemented up to the end of 2025 will go before members of our Cabinet next week.

It lists dozens of actions across the strategy's five themes - people, productivity, places, promotion and planet - including new employment and skills programmes, support to help business set up and grow and the development of major employment sites in the county.

'Bold and ambitious - but deliverable'

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, our Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: "The overarching aim of our Inclusive Economic Strategy is to create more and better jobs in an inclusive, green economy.

"It is deliberately bold and ambitious, but it is also deliverable.

"It homes in on a number of areas in which the county's performance is below national rates - employment, higher level skills, and higher-level occupations - and sets out how we will bridge that gap by 2035.

"To achieve this, we aim to help 13,500 more County Durham residents into employment or self-employment and 30,000 more people into managerial or professional roles over that period.

"We've also set a target to reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent based on a 2019 baseline.

"The delivery plan going to Cabinet next week will be the first in a series of plans that will work to deliver the vision and sets out the actions we need to get on with to accelerate growth, overcome barriers and harness our county's huge potential.

"And like the strategy itself, this is a joint plan, developed in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders and something that must be delivered in partnership because we need all our partners and anchor institutions working together to achieve our shared vision.

"It will soon be followed by an investment plan which, as well as supporting the delivery plan, will set out a clear and shared view of investment priorities and opportunities across the county, and the outcomes we want to see."

Apprenticeships, innovation and employment sites

People-themed actions in the delivery plan include setting up a new training and skills programmes to help local people prepare for and take advantage of new job opportunities, as well as new apprenticeship schemes.

There are also schemes tailored to supporting residents living with disabilities, learning disabilities, autism and poor mental health into employment along with pre-employment programmes for people who are currently unemployed.

Productivity-themed actions include building on the county's reputation as a place of innovation, including establishing the region as a powerhouse in the semi-conductor and space sectors, making it easier for new and growing businesses to access support and funding, alongside activities that boost research and development, and increase collaboration with universities.

The development of nationally and regionally significant sites such as NETPark and Durham City Innovation District including Aykley Heads, are prioritised under the places theme, along with the creation of a new Durham City vision and continued support for the county's towns and villages, including the delivery of the Horden Masterplan.

Meanwhile, the focus of the promotion theme is attracting visitors, investors, businesses and residents through promoting the county's unique assets and opportunities and growing the year-round visitor economy.

Actions within the delivery plan also contribute to the growth of the green economy and support the achievement of our commitment to net zero by 2035.

Members of our Cabinet will consider the County Durham Inclusive Economic Strategy Delivery Plan 2023 to 2025 when they meet on Wednesday 15 November.