Council puts the case to government to support South Somerset’s economy

South Somerset District Council (SSDC) has submitted its response to the UK Government's consultation on the Industrial Strategy Green Paper.

The Green Paper sets out the UK Government's vision for building a future UK Industrial Strategy that aims to "improve living standards and economic growth by increasing productivity and driving growth across the whole country". 

The Council's response to the Green Paper puts the case to the Government on the importance of South Somerset's economy to the UK and its potential for growth and job creation into the future, provided it gets the support it deserves. South Somerset's response focuses on the value of the aerospace industry in Somerset and the importance of UK Government support and investment to the industry. This view is supported by Somerset County Council, with whom SSDC jointly commissioned a report into the value of aerospace in Somerset.

Drawing upon data and views from a wealth of industry bodies and experts, the report provides clear evidence of the immense value of aerospace to the Somerset economy. In particular it stresses the importance of building upon our existing capabilities in what is termed high value design and manufacturing - something the Government's Green Paper says will be important to jobs and economic growth in the UK.

The Council's response to government highlights that aerospace activities in Somerset are part of a globally significant South West aerospace cluster and contributes £300 million a year to the local economy.

Councillor Ric Pallister, Leader of South Somerset District Council said, "The UK Government supporting and investing in the aerospace industry is vital to delivering local economic prosperity in South Somerset and more widely in the South West. We have over 21 times as many people employed in the aerospace industry than the national average and we have a unique specialism in rotorcraft design and production with Leonardo (formerly AgustaWestland) based in Yeovil.

"Our response to the Green Paper stresses the need for government investment in skills to equip the future workforce, in infrastructure to unlock employment land and improve digital and road/rail connectivity, and in supporting initiatives like iAero. Our aim is to further innovation and collaboration within the industry and between the public and private sectors. These are the foundations needed for aerospace businesses and other hi-tech businesses to continue to locate here and grow, to provide high value jobs to local people, and to boost our exports and encourage inward investment."

If Somerset is to capitalise on the potential for growth in the aerospace sector and remain at the forefront of the industry, support from the UK Government will be needed.

The Green Paper response also urged the UK Government to take better account of how government procurement decisions affect the local and national economy.

Councillor Jo Roundell Greene, South Somerset District Council's Portfolio Holder for Economic Development said, "Opportunities for growth in aerospace are enormous and the industry contributes hundreds of millions of pounds to the Somerset economy each year. The industry supports thousands of jobs in manufacturing and through the extensive supply chain, across the county.

"Our response to the UK Government's consultation on the Industrial Strategy Green Paper highlights the need to focus on the value of the aerospace industry to Somerset and the UK economy. There is clear evidence that increasing productivity and driving growth in Somerset will help to improve living standards and economic growth across the county and beyond."

South Somerset District Council's response to the Government's Green Paper also draws the wider support of neighbouring authorities in Dorset, from where many residents travel to work in aerospace businesses in Somerset.