Case Study: Research, Evaluation & Design

ESCC Economic Impact Assessment

 

Context

There are a number of myths and assumptions about the economics of East Sussex that are repeated and accepted as fact, influencing policy and investment. Similarly the make-up of decision-making forums can result in certain viewpoints having more exposure, resulting in ineffective strategy or missed opportunity. Robust data analysis of this kind has not been done since 2012. 

An infographic page from the East Sussex Economic Impact Assessment report

In the data that are produced, ES is often compared to the rest of the south east (usually Kent and Essex) and England as a whole, rather than benchmarking ES against other areas of the UK that actually have similar demographics or economies.

East Sussex is unusual in that it is a rural county without an urban centre but without a rural economy. There are no cities, motorways, airports or clear economic hubs – and by comparing it to other counties with more similar challenges, better value data will be available. The lack of European Funding after 2023, and absence of a like-for-like equivalent means that current programmes of support for small businesses are unlikely to be possible. There is a pressing need for the Economic Development team to approach the new Economic Development Strategy with creativity and to work in collaboration with businesses across the county, including those who are currently less engaged. To do so, they need an objective look at the data. This project is driven by evidence to bring new opportunities to the surface, and lead to better informed investment decisions. ESCC wants to be more competitive with investment, R&D and innovation, supporting the most viable businesses to grow and stay in the county.

Challenge

 

This research needed to focus on the economic data (such as GVA, employment, growth), not individual business or sector data, to provide insight into what a functioning economy needs, how East Sussex is currently performing and where action can be taken to have real impact.

As a result of this report, East Sussex would have a shared understanding with local businesses and stakeholders from which they can generate ideas for how to better target resources. ESCC would also like to know how economic performance varies at district and borough level, with comparisons across county – as no resources are likely to be effective as a one-size-fits-all approach.

Intervention

  • Robust research to find relevant data
  • Identification of comparators amongst UK local authority areas, against a range of metrics.
  • Analysis of data against a range of themes determined by ESCC
  • Establishment of benchmarks for economic development data in East Sussex

Outcome

  • Evidence-based insight about the reasons for East Sussex’s differences compared with neighbouring counties 
  • A range of infographics to make the headline data insights clear and easy to understand
  • A 44 page report structured in a way to be clear and easy to digest

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