Between March and June 2018, the Scottish Government ran a consultation process about the planned Enterprise Agency for the South of Scotland (hereafter "the Agency"). The consultation consisted of:
- An online consultation comprising of one closed-question and 20 open-text questions. A total of 268 responses to the online consultation were submitted.
- The online consultation was supplemented with 26 engagement events at different locations throughout the South of Scotland (Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders). The engagement events were led by members of the South of Scotland Economic Partnership ( SOSEP) and staff from the Scottish Government. The Southern Uplands Partnership was commissioned by SOSEP to organise and publicise the events. The events explored general questions and comments about the planned Agency for the South and asked participants to formulate their key questions and comments. The summary notes from each event are considered as a response to the consultation.
Rocket Science UK Ltd. was commissioned by the Scottish Government to analyse the responses to the consultation process, including both the 268 submitted responses to the online consultation and the summary notes from the 26 consultation events.
Background to the planned South of Scotland Enterprise Agency
Following Phase 2 of the Enterprise and Skills Review, the Scottish Government confirmed that it proposed to establish a new Enterprise Agency for the South of Scotland as a public body through primary legislation. The Agency has three overarching aims:
- Maximise the South of Scotland's contribution to Scotland's inclusive growth with a focus on supporting a diverse and resilient economy.
- Sustain and grow communities, i.e. building and strengthening communities through joining up economic and community support.
- Capitalise on people and resources through developing skills, promoting assets and maximising the impact of investment in the area.
The Scottish Government intends to introduce the legislation to establish a new public body to the Scottish Parliament in 2018, with the goal of the Agency beginning formal legislative operation from 1 April 2020.
For the interim period, the Scottish Government has established an interim partnership: the South of Scotland Economic Partnership ( SOSEP). Professor Russel Griggs OBE is the Chair of the Partnership and Rob Dickson its Chief Officer. The Partnership is made up of partners from the private, public, third, further and higher education sectors. In the 2018/19 financial year, the Scottish Government has identified £10 million to support the Government's ambition to drive forward inclusive growth and support communities across the South of Scotland.
The consultation was a key step in informing the legislation to establish the Agency as well as providing both SOSEP and the future agency with valuable insights about the views of communities, businesses and organisations operating in the South of Scotland.
The methodology adopted is described in Appendix 1. Appendix 2 sets out the consultation questions, while Appendix 3 sets out the list of respondents who agreed to have their responses published.
The rest of the report is structured as follows:
Chapter 2 - Profile of respondents: Outlines those who responded to the consultation including the proportion of individual and organisation responses, types of responding organisations and the location of consultation events.
Chapter 3 - Ambitions for the South of Scotland: Discusses respondents' ambitions for the South of Scotland including its economy, infrastructure and communities.
Chapter 4 - The economic context of the South of Scotland: Examines perceived economic challenges and strengths in the region and regional differences, both within the South and between the South and other areas of Scotland.
Chapter 5 - Potential activities for the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency: Including activities relating to driving forward the economy, growing and sustaining communities, and capitalising on people and resources.
Chapter 6 - Effective boundaries: Outlines respondents' views on the types of cooperation which were seen as necessary for the successful operation of the Agency.
Chapter 7 - Location and Board of the Agency: Including how the location of the Agency should be decided and the types of individuals who should make up the Board.
Chapter 8 - Young people: Reviews respondents' views on how young people can be encouraged to stay and move to the South of Scotland.
Chapter 9 - Other issues: Discusses issues relating to equalities, cooperation with stakeholders and views on the structure and decision-making processes of the Agency.