Our priorities

The South West is ranked top of the nine English regions as a place to live and work. The South West is a relatively productive and wealthy region, with an attractive environment but with pockets of social disadvantage in both the urban centres and rural communities. With 5 districts within the top 100 most deprived nationally ranked in the Index of Multiple Deprivation (2010) – City of Bristol, Torbay, City of Plymouth, Bournemouth, and Weymouth and Portland.

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

Business Class

United Futures in the South West

Ready for Work

Bridge the Gap

Community Impact Offer


Business Connectors