Big change in Swindon business support

By Amanda Wilkins - 26 March 2024

Business

Wiltshire Council is to take over business support functions from the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Following the Government’s announcement that all Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) functions should be transferred back to local authorities, the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP), Swindon Borough Council and Wiltshire Council have reached agreement in principle that Wiltshire Council will be taking on the services currently offered by SWLEP from 1 April.

This includes functions such as establishing a forum for business voice, delivery of an economic strategy, the programme management of the Growth Hub which acts as the front door for business support, and the Careers Hub, which provides advice to schools on preparing students for work.

In Wiltshire, the SWLEP functions currently cover both the Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council authority areas, and this responsibility will transfer to Wiltshire Council, which will deliver business support functions over both council areas.

This will complement the business advice and support services that the council already provides.

Cllr Jim Robbins, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “We are looking forward to working closely with Wiltshire Council to ensure that businesses in Swindon and the wider county continue to receive the support they need to grow and be successful.

“Swindon’s economy has shown remarkable resilience and is bouncing back strongly during the current recession as evidenced by Panattoni’s £900m investment in the town. We are also seeing significant investment in our town centre and within the wider Borough.

“But it is important we help smaller businesses and start-ups and continue the LEP’s important work with the Careers Hub so we prepare and help our students on their journey into work.”

Cllr Richard Clewer, Leader of Wiltshire Council and Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “This is an important step forward for business support in both Wiltshire and Swindon, as we take responsibly for all functions currently offered by the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP) from 1 April.

“We are working hard to make this transition as smooth as possible, and initially businesses throughout both Wiltshire and Swindon should see no changes to the services offered.

"It will be very much business as usual, with Wiltshire Council, Swindon Borough Council and SWLEP all committed to working together to deliver for businesses in Wiltshire and Swindon over the coming year.

“We have committed to a thriving economy in our Business Plan, and this will help us to deliver not just for the people and businesses of Wiltshire, but in Swindon, too.

“We are looking forward to an exciting and prosperous future for businesses in Wiltshire and Swindon.”

Paul Moorby OBE, Chair of SWLEP commented: "Our core remit within SWLEP is to promote the sustainable growth of the local economy, to promote opportunities for our businesses, large and small, throughout Swindon and Wiltshire. We have always enjoyed a strong and vibrant relationship with both our Local Authorities.

“We recently completed a major review of the work that we undertake. In particular, we looked at how local government services, business support and funding have evolved over the last decade. Swindon and Wiltshire remains a world class place to live, to study and to work and we are delighted that our work with local businesses will continue under the new structure.

“This strategic alignment is intended to bolster the local economy of both council areas whilst continuing to support the sustained growth and success of local businesses.”

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