Local economic recovery planning in Derbyshire County Council

Derbyshire acted quickly to set up an inclusive local governance structure to develop recovery plans, which gave the private sector a role in decision making.


An aerial shot of Derbyshire countryside at sunset

The county was able to do this because it had built trust though years of investment in its relationships with key local actors. With partners a set of recovery principles and timeframes were developed to frame analysis and decision making around a series of local priorities. The programme has two overarching outcomes. First, to use the recovery to assess the changes needed to enable a sustainable future, and, second, to deliver those transformational changes in the economy and for communities.

Recovery planning infrastructure in Derbyshire was specifically ‘organised to deliver’. It was also coordinated on a wider economic footprint with Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire and Staffordshire. Stakeholders contributed to different recovery workstreams on economic development, transport infrastructure, highways network, digital infrastructure, employment and skills, and regeneration. Workstreams were joined up within an overarching structure often led by an individual from the private sector or representative bodies. These ‘cells’ fed into a Strategic Recovery Group, which was overseen by local political leaders and senior business representatives, and connected to the Local Resilience Forum, LEP, and an shared intelligence and analytical group.

Phases of recovery [*as of July 2020]

Immediate rescue and resume 0 to 4 months (June to October)
Medium term revive and regenerate 5 to 18 months (November 2020 to April 2021)
Long term regenerate and renew 18 months onwards (April 2021 onwards)

 

In the short term, labour market interventions were prioritised to protect local jobs. For example, the county transferred £1m from its Apprenticeship Levy to local SMEs, provided additional discretionary business grants, support for business to sell online; directly funded employment support for young people and adults and recovery cells identified employment opportunities.

Building on its industrial and manufacturing heritage, longer term plans have been develop to make Derbyshire the center of UK hydrogen infrastructure. This is part of a broader regeneration strategy to enable a more circular, distributed, and greener economy that can address social disparity.

Reflecting on key lessons that emerged though the recovery planning process in Derbyshire, senior officers noted:  

  • Times of crisis require leadership as there’s ‘no time for negotiation’
  • Bring together all key economic levers, policy and networks into one place, with resources to provide co-ordination, develop ideas and insights, and bring forward more challenging projects.
  • Give the private and voluntary sector a formal role in the governance of the process
  • Innovation and new ideas can come from unusual sources – so be open minded