Welcome from Monica Fogarty, Chief Executive, Warwickshire County Council

Many of you will be picking this up amongst the mountain of emails that you are returning to after a holiday. If that includes you, then I hope you had a good break.

Although it is the holiday season, there is still a lot of interesting news. For us in Warwickshire, the University of Cardiff’s Competitiveness Index makes for fascinating reading. Warwickshire places a very strong emphasis on its strong economy and it is great to see four of our districts and boroughs in the top quarter of the UKCI and that the county is the most economically competitive area in the West Midlands.

Unfortunately, that situation is not the same in Nuneaton and Bedworth which emphasises how critical it is that our Transforming Nuneaton programme takes shape and is effective. There are already encouraging milestones being reached. The Borough Council has bought the old Co-Op building, while the County Council has bought Powell House and 3 Church Street with Growth Deal funding. We can move forward only when we own the land and properties in the area; that jigsaw is piecing together at a real pace now and will change the picture in and around the town.

Another area where we need to do more is also seeing positive results. At this year’s Skills for Employment conference, I commented on the number of people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities who would like to work (80% of a national figure of around 250,000 with an Education, Health and Care Plan). This compares very poorly with the figure that actually are in employment (6%) and I urged all in attendance to do something to change that.

Well, we have made a brilliant start. The recent Supportive Employers Inc forum saw another gathering in which businesses heard about the benefits – to team morale; businesses’ performances; and even the national economy – of enterprises taking on a supported intern. This follows the successful inaugural meeting in May and we are already seeing an impact on the ground in  Warwickshire. Thank you if you are one of the businesses that has attended a forum and pledged your support. If you haven’t been able to get to a meeting yet, please have a look at the article and see how your business might benefit. We’d love you to join us  on the journey.

In other great news, Warwickshire County Council has won an award for its Apprenticeship Levy Business Support Programme from the Federation of Small Businesses. We know the value of small and medium sized enterprises. They are the lifeblood of our economy in Warwickshire and we appreciate all the work that the FSB does in the area and so we were delighted to receive this accolade.

Finally, you will see that this week’s Outlook was expertly compiled by Sunny Parekh, the county’s senior economist. Usually this is compiled by Dave Ayton-Hill, who will be known to many of you. Dave will be taking up a new position in the very near future with Warwickshire County Council as he assumes the role of Assistant Director for Communities. I’m sure those of you who have worked with Dave will join me in wishing him every success in his new role.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, however you are spending it.

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