Regional economic policy review: paper 2 – the regional perspective
In this review the Regional Economic Policy Advisory Group examine why, and in which policy areas, economic development works well on a regional scale, assessing how its delivery can contribute to the aims of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation.
5. Glasgow Intelligence Hub
5.1.1 The Glasgow Intelligence Hub  serves as an example of what a region can create to better understand the communities it serves. It is included in this paper to show the importance of intelligence gathering and knowledge transfer within a region, and its strategic impact.
5.2.1 Glasgow has a long history of working regionally when it comes to land use (via Clydeplan) and transport planning (via the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport) and in 2014 it became the first city in Scotland (and one of the first in the UK) to sign a City Region Deal securing investment of £1.13 billion over 20 years.
5.2.2 The Deal offered the region the opportunity to expand joint working efforts to all areas of regional economic growth so the Cabinet that was established to oversee the Deal progress was quick to develop and launch a Regional Economic Strategy (RES). The Strategy covered the period 2017-2035 with the intention of building on the Deal investment and attracting further investment in the region.
5.2.3 Consultation with member authorities on how to deliver the RES identified a need for a range of intelligence services to support both the City Deal Programme and the wider regional economic activities associated with the RES.
5.2.4 The Business Case was approved in 2018 and it was agreed that the Intelligence Hub would provide a series of services which fall under the following workstreams:
1. Collating, analysing and presenting information, intelligence and data.
2. Undertaking and facilitating proactive policy research and environmental scanning.
3. Supporting service development, innovation and design.
4. Monitoring and evaluating the delivery of the RES and its related sub-strategies.
5. Supporting ongoing strategy and policy development of the RES and its sub-strategies.
6. Researching comparative practice and benchmarking regional economic development.
7. Commissioning and management of external research/consultancy work on behalf of City Region and City Deal structures.
8. Assisting delivery of the Commission's workplan including evaluation of the City Deal.
9. Providing intelligence service support to the City Deal PMO.
5.2.5 The initial work of the Intelligence Hub was to focus on the eight portfolio areas stemming from the 2017 RES however the Coronavirus pandemic led to a revision of the RES which was published in 2021 leading to revision of the Hub's focus.
5.3.1 With no external funds to support the development of the Intelligence Hub, the Member Authorities (MAs) funded the Hub through revenue contributions based on population share. Initial costings were based on a proposed staffing structure of 2 analysists and a Hub Manager and an indicative research budget of £50,000, totalling £313,700.
5.3.2 Running costs sit at around £200,000 per year and continue to be covered by the member authorities on a population-based formula.
5.4.1 The Intelligence Hub has helped create a more competitive, inclusive, productive and resilient regional economy by developing high levels of awareness within the region of its strengths and development opportunities.
5.4.2 The Hub provides a range of economic intelligence related services. This ranges from economic modelling to project evaluation for the City Region Deal. The Hub collates data from across the region on a number of indicators including:
- Labour Market
- Population and Demography
- Poverty and Inequality
5.4.3 This data allows the Hub to undertake research and analysis to help the region identify economic opportunities and to make successful business cases for projects that will benefit the region.
Glasgow City Region Deal
5.4.4 Due to the level of data captured by the Hub, it is able to provide robust economic analysis to support business cases being developed for the Deal projects. This allows for a significantly smoother and quicker appraisal process. There isn't the need to procure outside contractors to perform the analysis for each project which saves both time and money for the region.
5.4.5 Managed in-house also allows for reactive responses to economic shocks or smaller-scale changes to a project. In recent years the Hub has been able to assess the impacts of the Covid-pandemic and the rise in construction costs to evidence the impact to date and to predict future trends and impacts on the Deal projects. This allows the project leads and the PMO to manage the projects, reprioritise where necessary, alter timelines and keep the governance structures informed ultimately allowing the programme of work to continue at pace despite challenging circumstances.
Regional Economic Strategy
5.4.6 A key part of the initial business case for the Hub was to support the implementation of the 2017 RES produced by the REP. Like the majority of regions that had a RES in place, Glasgow recognised the need for a refreshed RES to take account of the impacts of the Covid pandemic.
5.4.7 The Hub produced a regional economic baseline and a detailed analysis of the regions business base to support the development of the refreshed RES. Analysists working in the Hub were able to identify the long-standing barriers in the labour market (such as skills and health) and how these had been impacted by the pandemic. They were able to show in which areas of the region and which demographics were hit the hardest allowing the RES to focus support in those areas. The refreshed RES was published in December 2021 and the Hub has just finished working with the REP to produce an action plan for delivery.
5.4.8 Access to such data also means that the Hub is able to undertake bespoke economic analysis for a range of clients including member authorities that make up the region and third parties. This allows additional income for the Hub.
5.4.9 With the Cost of Living Crisis the Hub have been able to identify the impact to citizens within the region.
5.4.10 Most recently the Hub has worked with the REP to develop its Green Freeport bid. It was able to provide a strong economic case to support the bid by identifying how a Glasgow-based Green Freeport would help both the region and Scotland grow internationally and bring business and employment opportunities.
5.5 Regional Intelligence Hubs
5.5.1 Noting the work of the Hub and the benefits we see flow from it, REPAG believe it necessary that the Scottish Government explore the establishment of Intelligence Hubs across all regions in Scotland, akin to the Glasgow model (though modified to suit regional needs). This would build sustained expertise within regions to carry out novel and creative economic analysis, providing a far deeper and broader understanding of specific and nuanced regional strengths and challenges
5.5.2 Ideally, by making more refined intelligence led decisions regarding evidenced regional strengths, regional partners can invest in a way that "super-charges" productivity and realise the ambition of more productive businesses and regions as laid out in NSET.
5.5.3 Over time the expertise and product of the Intelligence Hubs will lessen the requirement for Local Authorities to procure consultants (benefit of reducing costs, procurement exercises, and time to develop project business cases within Local Authorities), and with a Regional Intelligence Network established, give SG a wealth of regional evidence to feed into OCEA's own analysis – links could, and ought to, be made to the Wellbeing Monitor.
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