The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) held an information event on 17 September to disseminate its findings and recommendations in relation to regional development and public investment in Wales. Here’s a summary of what was said.
Points to consider:
- Territorial considerations
The OECD outlined some of its key territorial considerations in the session. Labour productivity in Wales is the lowest in the UK, with negative growth in large parts of Wales. The OECD outlined the importance of a place based approach to address this – what’s needed in south east Wales may be irrelevant in north Wales – but high performing digital and physical infrastructure networks must exist within each region of Wales to support prosperity and wellbeing for all people and places.
- EU funds in Wales
Wales receives the highest amount of EU funding, per capita, within the UK. Wales will receive £2billion under the 2014-2020 programmes and, together with co-financing, this represents a total investment of £3.8billion. The UK won’t have access to this funding post Brexit and very little detail has emerged from UK Government about the Shared Prosperity Fund – the proposed replacement for the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). We still don’t know how much will be in the pot, what it will fund and how it will be delivered. In addition to this, the pandemic and subsequent recovery has and will continue to drive a demand for more public investment, all in the context of falling revenues.
Key challenges and recommendations
The OECD highlighted a number of key challenges and recommendations in the session.
- A high incidence of fragmentation in policy, planning and investment financing.
- All departments have their own regional/local objectives and priorities with no anchor.
- Introduce a single, integrated Regional Development Policy and support with integrated, regionally-designed plans
- Adopt the proposed Framework for Regional Investment
- Build on existing knowledge, experience and capacity; adjust what doesn’t work
- Establish a policy neutral Office for Regional Development and Investment (under the First Minister’s Office) to bring together the regional development strategy, policy and investment
Click here to read the OECD’s full report.