It’s a pleasure to be back in Portsmouth to talk about where this city is going.
In many ways, Portsmouth’s story is the story of the wider British economy over the last few years. Yes there’s been an economic shock, but we’ve come out fighting, unbowed and undaunted.
When jobs were here threatened we took swift action, creating a Minister for Portsmouth and putting a plan in place to secure this city’s future.
Look what’s already been achieved:
- a ministerial taskforce dedicated to Portsmouth
- an industry-led Solent Maritime Forum
- assisted area status for Portsmouth, Gosport and the Isle of Wight
- £18 million for an Enterprise Zone
- £18 million from the Growing Places Fund
- 2000 jobs in naval base management secured
Regional Growth Fund projects worth £50 million
- £5 million to reskill those affected by the BAE decision
- 3 commercial bids shortlisted for the BAE shipyard, with a decision to follow soon
- supporting a national headquarters for elite sailing
- driving forward a National Large Structures Composite Centre
- 2 new aircraft carriers and the world’s most advanced destroyers berthed at Portsmouth
- a city deal worth nearly a billion for Portsmouth and Southampton
- and the Solent Growth Deal: at least 5000 jobs, and 10,000 new homes and a massive boost to transport infrastructure - creating a total new investment package of £484.6 million for the Solent area
And the result? In this city: 1,200 people off benefits and into work over the past year. A 31% fall in unemployment. The number of job seeker allowance claimants down from 4077 to 2850. And 7000 new apprentices since we took office.
No other city gets this attention at the heart of government. No city has seen faster progress. No other era has delivered more for Portsmouth.
Today I want to talk to you about my vision for Portsmouth and 3 elements that will safeguard its success: enterprise, skills, and physical place.
It’s within our grasp to make the UK the best place in the world to set up a business. Over 2 million businesses have set up in Britain since May 2010. That includes 47,000 new businesses in the Solent LEP area - 10,000 alone in 2013.
The challenge now is how to help those new businesses scale-up and grow.
In particular, we need to look at high-growth small businesses, which account for only 1% of the business population but create over a third of all net new jobs. Many of these firms are based here, taking advantage of an unrivalled maritime skills base, and it’s vital that we back them.
That means getting the right tax and regulatory environment, delivering on skills and bringing industry and government together to think long-term about local economic priorities, as we’ve done through the Solent LEP.
We also need to build a pipeline of entrepreneurial talent.
Today marks the start of Global Entrepreneurship Week, a week set aside each November to inspire people in 150 countries to explore their potential as entrepreneurs.
Last year, nearly 350,000 people got involved in Global Entrepreneurship Week in the UK, and I congratulate UK organisers on winning Country of the Year for 2013. I know that this year will also be a triumph.
Second, skills. For a city built on maritime engineering it’s crucial that we have the right workforce.
Last week I announced that Portsmouth’s Highbury College will form part of the first national UK Shale College.
These centres of excellence will train a generation of onshore oil and gas specialists, helping us seize an economic opportunity which we literally can’t afford to miss.
Membership of the National Shale College will ensure that Highbury College is brilliantly placed to deliver that expertise, setting up thousands of local young people for a career in this exciting new sector.
As Minister for Portsmouth I am committed to ensuring this city has the space and infrastructure it needs to remain a centre for advanced manufacturing.
We recently announced £7.5 million to support Sir Ben Ainslie’s proposal to base his Americas Cup team in Portsmouth.
We’ve also negotiated a growth deal with the Solent LEP which will see £125 million invested locally and create over 5000 jobs.
And today I can announce a major milestone in the delivery of the Southampton and Portsmouth City Deal.
The deal is providing more than £950 million of public and private investment and contracts and being exchanged today between Portsmouth City Council and the Ministry of Defence for the transfer of Horsea Island and the Tipner Firing Range. Unlocking this site creates space for 2,370 new homes and 58,000 square meters of employment space for the growing marine and advanced manufacturing sectors of the Solent economy. It will create 3,700 permanent jobs.
The future of Portsmouth is as important to me as it is to everyone in this room. We know what we need to get there: entrepreneurs ready to create the jobs, people with the skills to secure them, space for these people to live and work.
Portsmouth is on the rise. The city’s docks and shipyards have safeguarded Britain for centuries. Now, through the measures I’ve outlined, I’m determined to ensure they help secure our economic future.