About South of Scotland Enterprise

Context

In May 2016, the First Minister announced an end-to-end review to ensure that Scotland’s public agencies are delivering the joined-up enterprise and skills support that Scotland’s young people, universities, colleges, businesses and workers need to increase sustainable economic growth. The Enterprise and Skills Review Phase 1 Report recognised that there was a need to do things differently in the South of Scotland to improve the area’s productivity and make a step-change in its growth. It recognised the unique challenges faced in the South of Scotland and committed to creating a new vehicle to meet the enterprise and skills needs of the region. Phase 2 committed to establishing a new public body through legislation to bring a fresh approach, with a clear focus on place, informed by the economic context and sensitive to the needs and opportunities of the area. The Scottish Government made a clear commitment to establishing the new enterprise body in its Programme for Government and the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament by the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing MSP, on 24 October 2018.

Legislation

The South of Scotland Enterprise Act 2019 was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 5 June 2019 and received Royal Assent on 12 July 2019.  The Act provides the structure and legal framework for a new enterprise agency in the South of Scotland to drive sustainable and inclusive growth. It is high level and enabling, setting out overarching strategic aims and providing powers to enable South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) to achieve these aims flexibly and responsively.

The Act sets out the strategic aims of South of Scotland Enterprise which are to: further the sustainable economic and social development of the South of Scotland; and improve the amenity and environment of the South of Scotland. It contains a list of activities which SOSE may undertake to achieve those aims. This list is illustrative, enabling SOSE to respond to the circumstances and needs of the area.

The Act also makes provision for the constitutional, governance and finance matters in keeping with Scotland’s other enterprise bodies to ensure transparency and accountability. The body will assume operations on 1 April 2020.

South of Scotland Enterprise will be a Non Departmental Public Body (NDPB) directed by its Board and is expected to have between 125 – 175 staff when fully formed.

Economy of the South of Scotland

The South of Scotland is a predominantly rural area which faces particular issues impacting on its economy including an ageing population, losing its young people, challenging physical and digital connectivity, low GDP per-head with low productivity, sectors with traditionally low wages and few higher skilled jobs with a business base dominated by micro and small businesses. The area also has many natural advantages which makes it attractive for residents, businesses and visitors. It is strategically well placed. It has significant land assets and energy resources. It has active further and higher education sectors and innovative businesses operating across sectors. It has vibrant communities with a rich history and culture.

Ambitions for South of Scotland Enterprise

Recognising the distinctiveness of the region, the new body will deliver a tailored approach to support these aims and Scottish Government’s ambition. Set in the context of Scotland’s Economic Strategy, this ambition is for a south of Scotland which has:

  • businesses with increased productivity, ambitious for the future, investing in innovation and offering good conditions of employment paying higher wages;
  • a skilled workforce with both the skills needed now, and the ability to develop the skills needed for the future;
  • more opportunities for young people so that they can see a future in the area, and to attract people who want to locate in the area;
  • communities better equipped to play a greater role in the economic, social and environmental success of their area;
  • a clear commitment to inclusive growth, taking a holistic look at the barriers that are getting in the way and taking action to address them.

 

South of Scotland Enterprise will encourage and promote fair work through a range of activities to deliver these overarching aims and it will work with existing and potential businesses across sectors of all sizes and with communities looking to grow or to support inclusive growth.