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May 14, 2018 4:00 PM

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Economic development can be defined as efforts that seek to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for a community by creating and/or retaining jobs and supporting or growing incomes and the tax base.

Economic growth means an increase in real national income / national output. Economic growth should enable more economic development. Higher real GDP enables more to be spent on health care and education.

The New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is one of 38 LEPs across the country. It was set up in 2011 and is a partnership between local authorities, the education sector and businesses. Its aim is to lead economic growth and job creation in the local area. New Anglia LEP covers the two counties of Norfolk and Suffolk.

So what will bring economic growth and development to Norfolk and Suffolk?

Population is the problem

Pop density

The working age population (16-64) across Norfolk and Suffolk was 59.5% in 2015, which was below the UK average of 63.3%.

Nearly every age group under 50 is under represented in Norfolk and Suffolk with a particular gap in the prime age workforce of 20-35 year olds. They make up only 18.35 of the population compared with 21.5% across the rest of the UK.

However, there is a high and increasing number of over 65s relative to the rest of the country, at 23.1% of the population, compared with 17.8% nationally.

Between 2005 and 2015 the population increased by 7%, compared with a 7.8% increase nationally and 9.2% across the East of England region.

During this time, the number of people aged 65 and above has increased by more than the rest of the population (77,900 more people aged 65 and above, compared with 28,300 more people aged under 65).

This phenomenon is relatively unique to Norfolk and Suffolk and the trend is not replicated at the national level, where growth in the 65-plus age group (1.94 million) has been around three quarters of the growth in those under 65 (2.63 million).

Elderly Dependent Ratio

In 2005 there were 3.2 people of working age to every retired person

In 2015 it was 2.6 people of working age to every retired person

In 2027 it will be 2.1 people of working age to every retired person

So how do you get more working age people into Norfolk and Suffolk?

The New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership has set out its new economic strategy for Norfolk and Suffolk. The Strategy seeks to ensure the area's growth ambitions and investment priorities are realised and clearly articulated to Government and other stakeholders.

The strategy now has five-year targets, from the 2016 baseline to 2021.

These are:


2016 baseline

Result by 2021

GVA (the value of our economy in real terms)



Productivity (GVA per hour)



Net new jobs



Successful new businesses



New homes



Inclusive Growth: Median Full-Time Weekly Wages



Inclusive Growth: Employment rate (A higher proportion of people engaged in the labour market than across the UK)



Inclusive Growth: Skills (no. of people qualified to NVQ3+)



How do these targets compare with our neighbouring areas?

Essex has set itself the ambitious target of becoming the fastest growing economy in the country with the aim of doubling its jobs and wealth by 2025.

Essex's Independent Economic Commission (!) wants to see Essex's output doubled to 60bn. http://www.itv.com/news/anglia/2017-03-02/plans-to-double-jobs-and-wealth-in-essex/

Greater Essex had a 3.0% share of UK business starts-ups over the 2010-15 period (54,670 start ups) which compared to Norfolk 1.0% (17,860) over the same period. Norfolk was also 2.5% behind the national average for business startups.

Oxfordshire Strategic Economic Plan looks to plan simultaneously for both jobs and housing growth with delivery targets of 85,600 jobs between 2011 and 2031 and approximately 100,000 new homes.

Oxford is now the second largest UK city by total economic output behind London. Its GVA rose by 2.2% last year.


The Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities Index 2017 shows Oxford as being first out of 38 UK cities measured with Cambridge seventh. Norwich is 18th. https://www.pwc.co.uk/industries/government-public-sector/good-growth.html

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has set targets from 2017/18 to 2020/21 of 10,000 new jobs and 2,700 new homes more than 90,000 additional jobs and over 100,000 new homes by 2036 (these are similar to Norfolk and Suffolk)

The UK Powerhouse study produced by Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economics and Business Research provides an estimate of GVA growth and job creation within 45 of the UK's largest cities 12 months ahead of the Government's official figures.

It estimates that Cambridge will have the fastest growing economy of all Britain's cities in 2018 with Oxford 3rd and Norwich 7th.

For growth in employment, it estimates that Oxford will be 9th, Cambridge 10th and Norwich 27th. https://www.irwinmitchell.com/ukpowerhouse

What do the Liberal Democrats want to see?

1. Better use of local businesses expertise as part of an enlarged economic development team to take a more proactive approach for promoting Norfolk and getting better, higher paid jobs into our county.

Wouldn't it be great to have an independent Economic Commission for Norfolk?

2. A more ambitious set of economic targets that sends out a clear message nationally and internationally to promote Norfolk and approach and for the County Council to go out and win better, higher paid jobs and more businesses for Norfolk

3. We need a clear, radical and exciting long-term economic vision for Norfolk that's simple enough to put on a postcard.

Photo of John Timewell

Councillor John Timewell said "Without these Norfolk will continue to be left behind which is not an option. We must strive to be more proactive in attracting new businesses, following up all enquiries to ensure higher success rates. Job creation and an increased wage level must at all times be a high priority"