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West of England Combined Authority 'outperforming' on productivity, earning, skills and employment

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Written by: Hannah Baker | Posted 30 October 2017 13:39

 West of England Combined Authority 'outperforming' on productivity, earning, skills and employment

The West of England Combined Authority (WECA), which covers Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, and South Gloucestershire, is outperforming nationally on productivity, earning, skills and employment, according to a report by business and financial advisers Grant Thornton UK and law firm Bond Dickinson.

The ‘Combined Authorities: Signs of Success’ report looks at the legal, funding and governance frameworks of each of the nine combined authorities, which together govern over 16 million people.

It is the first benchmarking report on the performance of mayoral and non-mayoral combined authorities.

According to the report, workplace earnings are nine per cent higher in WECA than other areas, averaging £27,878 compared with the national average of £25,520.

Skills levels in the region are also higher than the national average, with 44.7 per cent of the working population qualified to degree level or above, compared to 32.55 per cent in other combined authority regions.

The report uses Grant Thornton's Vibrant Economy Index released earlier this year, which provides an indication of social and economic performance, and measures how towns and cities in the region compare on a range of factors from prosperity to health, wellbeing and happiness, and dynamism and opportunity.

Despite positive results in some areas, the report also revealed that the region is falling behind on a range of ‘liveability’ factors including, housing affordability, traffic congestion and use of public transport.

Read more: More people working at night in past five years

Average house prices are 11.08 times higher than average mean earnings, compared to 7.32 times for other combined authorities and average delays on locally managed A roads are 62.06 seconds per vehicle per mile, compared to 48 seconds elsewhere.

In addition, just 9.7 per cent of people travel to work by public transport, compared to 14.06 per cent in other combined authorities.

Tim Lincoln, South West practice leader at Grant Thornton, said: “The West of England Combined Authority region is showing itself to be one of the country’s most successful for productivity and prosperity.

“We have a huge amount to be proud of, with burgeoning technology and financial services sectors and some ambitious growing businesses that are attracting and retaining top talent.

“There are always areas for improvement, however, and we know that a huge amount is being done to make the West of England an even better place to work and live. For example, the investment of £1 billion to boost economic growth for all.

Kevin Gibbs, head of strategy planning and senior counsel at Bond Dickinson's Bristol office, added: "Combined authorities present many opportunities for coordinated intervention, harnessing the power of collaboration in return for devolved powers and Government funding.

“In the West of England, it is likely to be the body for the future funding of key growth areas from major transport and infrastructure projects through to skills, business support and long term strategic planning."

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