Greater Brighton Annual Report 2021/22

Founded as part of the successful efforts to secure a City Deal for the region, since 2014 the Greater Brighton Economic Board has led the way in delivering almost £200m of investment across Adur, Brighton, Lewes, Mid Sussex, and Worthing.

In the years which followed, Greater Brighton’s boundaries expanded to include Arun and Crawley, with the population of the city region growing to over a million people and an economy of over £21 billion.

With the City Deal funding coming to an end, the purpose of the board has increasingly shifted from overseeing the government’s capital investment in the city region to identifying areas where collaboration across the board has the potential to deliver better outcomes than individual action alone. It is in this new role that the board has brought forward ambitious plans aimed at addressing a range of issues, with a particular focus on enabling a successful shift to net zero across the city region.

The release of the Levelling Up White Paper earlier this year brings with it both challenges and opportunities for our area. The goal of ‘Levelling Up’ is widely interpreted as meaning a refocusing of government support onto ‘left behind’ areas conventionally associated with the North of England, yet we have within our city region significant pockets of deprivation and for the UK to prosper economically we need areas such as Greater Brighton to continue to thrive.

The aims of the White Paper are ambitious, yet with the absence of substantial new public investment, the realisation of those goals hinges upon the decentralisation of powers to upper-tier authorities and functional economic areas, with the paper setting out a roadmap for devolution across the country as a whole. This forces a choice upon the board and in the coming months we will have to decide collectively what we believe will best deliver for our communities. Should we remain focused solely upon collaborating around an ad hoc set of issues or do we feel that Greater Brighton has the potential to take on those same decision-making powers which can be found across our competing city-regions? Which approach will best ensure we deliver for the people who live and work within our city region?No one can deny that in the face of COVID-19, the last two years have proven the most challenging in the history of the board and yet I strongly believe that with the question of devolution looming, it is 2022/23 which is set to be Greater Brighton’s most significant year.

Full report available here:

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