The South West is the most rural region in England with 34% of the population living in rural areas. The major cities are the engines of the regional economy but the rural nature of much of the region remains a dominant feature. Bristol/West of England has the largest economy in the region, employing over 500,000 people, and has a lead role as a city-region of international, national and regional significance. The other urban centres are focused around Plymouth, Exeter, Bournemouth/Poole, Swindon and Gloucester/Cheltenham. Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are among the most rural parts of the UK, with a significant dependence on tourism, fishing and agriculture.
There is a dispersed network of towns including significant conurbations at Camborne, Pool and Redruth, St Austell and the Clay Country, and Falmouth and Penryn. Rural areas have a larger share of micro and small businesses compared to urban areas and rural businesses tend to be older than their urban counterparts. Rural businesses make an important contribution to the South West’s economy. Around 26 per cent of the region’s gross value added is attributable to the rural areas. Economic sectors of key regional importance are: advanced engineering and aerospace, food and drink, creative industries, tourism, ICT, marine, biotechnology, and environmental technologies. Environmental technologies and services, such as renewable energy, represent a huge global market where the South West can become a leader.
Our priorities are delivered through the following programmes in the South West
United Futures in the South West
Ready for Work
Bridge the Gap
Community Impact Offer