West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy Evidence Base
The West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) was the first of its kind when it was launched in 2019, driven by the West Midlands Combined Authority in partnership with the three LEPs. Black Country LEP and The EIU were integral to its development, publication and delivery: leading the evidence gathering and analysis aspect of the LIS – including in-depth macroeconomic and sector deep dives - and spearheading the development and implementation of 5 industry-led sector action plans (aerospace, construction, health and care, metals and materials, and rail).
The comprehensive LIS evidence base, produced and published by The EIU alongside academic partners, was integral to the formation of the strategy, providing a sound factual foundation across key productivity drivers, policy verticals and key sectors.
Metals and Materials Forum
By setting up a West Midlands Metals and Materials Forum in 2021, Black Country LEP provided the sector with a local representative voice and a policy vehicle that bridges the public and private sectors. Bringing together businesses, trade bodies / business groups (especially UK Metals Council) and universities, the now EIU-coordinated Forum uses an evidence-led, industry-led approach to identify and act on sector opportunities and challenges for the Black Country and wider region.
For example, working directly with businesses and trade bodies to gather evidence, report and lobby on issues related to steel import quotas, energy exemption schemes, and skills development – engaging directly with government departments and other local / national organisations to demonstrate our evidence-based case to affect change.
Black Country Economy of Together Action Plan
An evidence-based approach underpinned by inclusivity and equity is critical to delivering and measuring the success of the Black Country’s Economy of Together (EOT) vision. This is highlighted in the 2021-published EOT 2030 Action Plan, setting out the Black Country’s collective vision to be a more sustainable, healthy and inclusive place. It is an intelligence-led framework, underpinned by EIU data and insight, driven by 4 pillars of focus (equalities, education, enterprise and environment) and cross-cutting focus of health.
Importantly, The EIU has already been involved in delivering on the actions set out and pulling the levers for change: for example through the establishment of the Black Country Anchor Network and continuation / growth of local authority level networks, of which The EIU is a key part of in collaboration with local authorities, the NHS and other anchor institutions.
WMCA Worklessness Report
Analysis of regional and sub-regional trends in the WMCA area. The report was co-produced with the WMCA to support the identification of different groups and places which may be influencing regional growth for good or for bad, and which may merit more detailed consideration through potential deeper dive discussions.
This research has been delved into at a West Midlands 7 Met level, to understand how these national trends are translated at the local level. This will allow local decision makers to understand the local workforce better and develop programs to tackle increasing economic inactivity due to ill-health, potentially working with NHS colleagues.
Repowering the Black Country
Aiming to address the government’s clean growth challenge, Repowering the Black Country helps to support manufacturing businesses decarbonise, tackling international climate change on a local level. The plan’s ambitious aim is for the Black Country to reduce industrial carbon emissions by around 1.3MtCO² by 2040.
The EIU provided the evidence base to the project, by undertaking an in-depth mapping exercise to understand the distribution of energy intensive industries across the Black Country area, and pin-point 4 initial zero carbon hub locations for the project. This mapping exercise not only looked at what energy infrastructure was already present at the sites, but what development was also planned around sites, to see if there could be co-benefits with schemes in the area. The EIU also developed an interactive portal for the project team to host maps and data during the project.
Black Country iTree Eco Study
With funding from the Woodland Trust, The EIU has worked with partners to survey trees across 1,000 plots across the Black Country to understand the health and resilience of the Black Country’s urban forest and calculate where tree planting can provide the most benefits for people and wildlife. The study was led by the Black Country Consortium, in partnership with Birmingham Tree People, Treeconomics, Barton Hyett Associates, and Forest Research. The project was funded by the Woodland Trust’s Emergency Tree Fund.
Lack of data and information around the value of urban green infrastructure and trees can leave them vulnerable to cutting down or poor maintenance as they are not understood or appreciated. We wanted to rectify this on a local scale. This was a study that looked at all of the trees across the Black Country. We were able to identify how many trees there are, their condition and the species diversity that exists here. We were also able to measure the benefits these trees are providing, not only to the people who live and work here, but also to the environment.
Natural capital/green infrastructure is poorly understood and undervalued, and the benefits green infrastructure provides are not adequately described and quantified. Understanding these benefits can help to protect and manage this vital resource.
The aims of the project:
- To illustrate the structure and composition of the urban forest, including the species composition, population diversity and tree condition.
- Calculate the ecosystem services.
- Conduct a risk analysis of the susceptibility to pests and diseases.
- Promote the Black Country’s Urban Forest to all and emphasise the benefits of trees.
Midlands Engine Observatory
The EIU provides the resource behind the Midlands Engine Observatory, which is a cross regional partnership with the ability to harness region-wide strengths and expertise as we work towards a successful future. It is also a core part of the work of the Midlands Engine, where it provides essential insight and information to support all areas of delivery. By tracking the impact of the interventions made across the region, the Observatory can quantify the impact of programmes and activities at a pan-regional level.
The Midlands Engine Observatory gathers data and intelligence, shapes policy insights and helps target investment for recovery and growth in our region. It is the only pan-regional Observatory in England. The Midlands Engine Observatory is an alliance of leading academic researchers and economic and industry experts working together to deliver the regionally focused research and analysis our partners need in every part of the Midlands.
The EIU team were instrumental in delivering the end of project evaluation for the West Midlands 5G project. The aim of the programme closure report for the West Midlands 5G (WM5G) Urban Connected Communities Programme (UCC) was to provide an overview of the programme, drawing together key strands such as results, benefits and lessons learned from across WM5G workstreams - while providing a high-level, evaluation of the overall programme against the ambitions of its original business case.
The EIU analysed the first 20 years of A&M EDM’s growth from a two person start-up to an engineering sub-contractor employing 75 people and £7m turnover. This economic impact report was a groundbreaking study of the growth of a manufacturing SME and its contribution to regional Gross Value Added, creating and developing skilled manufacturing jobs and investment. The report analysed the distribution of employees, customers and suppliers across the West Midlands.
- Phil Calcutt
“The EIU has provided Walsall and our neighbouring authorities with a robust evidence base for over 20 years now, really adding value to our processes and decision-making across key areas including regeneration, skills, business and the wider economy. It is our pleasure to host The EIU on behalf of local partners and the wider region, ensuring the unique skill and resource of this vital asset continues now and far into the future.”
- Councillor Mike Bird
Leader of Walsall Council