Help us to move on!

Our report for the Blagrave Trust outlining practical policy recommendations to address some of the issues facing young people in Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton can be read below.

Hope4Housing Film: This is a short film made by young people in Hampshire which sets out some of the issues facing them in housing, and how they would like to see local politicians and policy-makers start to address them.

Home, here or London?

Retaining graduates from the central South’s universities.

Both authors frequently hear the refrain ‘we must retain more of our graduates’ at meetings and seminars on the local economy.This report, commissioned by Willmott Dixon, explores the retention of graduates from the central South’s universities in our economy and examines the challenges the region faces in recruiting and retaining these graduates.

Graduates are a valuable resource to the economy.They bring new skills, fresh perspectives and a willingness to question established approaches.1 The government sees the UK’s universities as central to the delivery of its industrial strategy, in part because they will provide the skilled professionals needed for a changing economy.

Living Well: Health and wellbeing for a better quality of life

In March 2018 the University of Winchester and Southern Policy Centre hosted a seminar on health and social care, exploring the challenges facing the Central South as we strive to meet the pressures demographic changes put on our health and social services.

The growing number of older people is in no small measure due to the medical and social progress we have made in recent years. Yet, whilst many can look forward to longer lives, they may also face more complex medical conditions and physical challenges as they age. One of our speakers last March, Lord Geoffrey Filkin from the Centre for Ageing Better, put is very simply: longer lives are a great opportunity, but what will make those extra years good? That is the question our seminar addresses

Upcoming Event: Help us to move on!

Practical policy solutions from Hampshire’s young people.

In July 2018 the Southern Policy Centre was commissioned by the Blagrave Trust to develop a policy advocacy strategy for young people aged 16-25 in Hampshire. Over the last 8 months we have been listening to young people and researching alongside them to understand the challenges that affect them the most during transition from childhood to adulthood, and to develop potential solutions to these. The primary concerns raised were housing, education, training and employment. The work has been led by Professor John Denham, former government minister and founding director of the SPC.

The launch event will see the young people themselves present the findings from our work together and set out a strategy to start to address the issues raised. There will be an opportunity to discuss the strategy in groups and provide feedback.

Event Details

The launch will be held on Wednesday 3rd April 2019 Southampton FC’s St Mary’s Stadium, starting registration & refreshments at 10.15am. There will be buffet lunch served at the conclusion of the event which will finish by 1pm, please advise if you wish to stay for lunch

Click here to book your free spot now!

Living Well: Health and wellbeing for a better quality of life

In conjunction with the University of Winchester and supported by Paris Smith and Energise Me, we are delivering a seminar to explore how we can all live well.

The rise of new ‘health’ trends communicated via media platforms has called into question what living well really means.

Chaired by the University’s Chancellor Alan Tichmarsch, this event is the third of a series of debates on linked and topical issues.

Speakers of the seminar include Professor Shireen Kassam, Consultant Haematologist at Kings College Hospital and Visiting Professor at the University of Winchester on the importance of diet, Dr William Bird MBE, GP and founder of Intelligent Health, on the importance of physical activity and Kevin Gardner, CEO and Abby Oakley from Solent Mind on achieving mental wellbeing.

Book your free seats by clicking here.

SPC announces new devolution project – ‘A strategy for the central South?’

Is there a strategy for the central South? A new SPC project

There is a widely-shared fear that central southern England is not attracting the additional resources and powers that are being enjoyed in other regions.

The former Treasury Minister, Lord Jim O’Neill, has criticised previous devolution proposals from central southern England, saying that they failed to identify clear priorities and distinctive outcomes for the area.[1]It is clear that progress in the future will depend on developing a clear regional strategy with broad political, business and public sector buy-in. It is also clear that the government has backed some sub-regional strategies (for example the Oxford-Cambridge corridor) with no formal devolution deals in place.

Many strategy documents and plans have been published for central southern England by LEPs, local authorities, statutory undertakings and business organisations. However, it is difficult to find an overview of these proposals, let alone an assessment of whether they create a coherent and complementary set of policies.

The new SPC project aims to address that shortfall. Rather than re-open the sensitive and difficult topic of devolution structures, we want to address the underlying question: is there a coherent strategy for central southern England? And, if not, where are the gaps and omissions? 

There is no comprehensive collation of the current strategies in place or being developed in the region. The project will bring that analysis together. It will cover for example: LEPs and cross-LEP initiatives; government, LEP and local authority-backed bodies such as Transport for the South-East; local authority strategies for development planning, transport, housing and local economic strategies; private sector-led initiatives from organisations such as EEF, FSB, CBI, IoD and Business South, and major employers such as ABP.

Taken together, existing plans and strategies cover most of the issues that would be contained in a regional strategy. Some are quite local in focus, but many have regional and national significance. But, covering different geographies and sometimes developed in silos, it is not clear whether taken together they form a coherent, integrated approach. Nor is it clear what weaknesses and omissions exist.  Aspiration and the capacity to deliver are not the same thing.

There is an urgent need to highlight the major problems we face collectively in the central South and assess how best they can be meet through a coherent regional strategy. Our project will allow us to take that overview of the plans and strategies for our region and their efficacy.

By doing so, we can help develop a clear and shared statement of regional priorities.  This will be of immediate value to any organisations seeking to champion the region but also provide the core content of any future devolution discussions.

The SPC project

Our initial research will support a series of stakeholder seminars that will examine the main policy areas in turn. The seminars will be based on a series of original analyses which summarise current plans and proposals. These papers, writtenin an accessible and non-academic style, and based on close collaboration with the appropriate LEPs, local authorities and other bodies, will be presented to an audience of key business interest, public authorities and other stakeholders.

Seminar structure: It is proposed to cover two related topics in each seminar. This will provide the best balance between attracting the appropriate audience for each event and giving sufficient time to discuss proposals. Our initial proposal is to cover the following topics (although this may be amended as research results emerge):

Seminar 1: planning and housing

Seminar 2: transport and infrastructure, including broadband

Seminar 3: higher education and innovation

Seminar 4: learning, skills and productivity (covering both HE and FE)

Seminar 5: energy and sustainability

The seminar discussions will be moderated to focus on areas of consensus support, and to identify significant issues that are inadequately covered by existing strategies. The final project will summarise the seminar conclusions. It will highlight the policies that clearly command widespread support as regional strategies. It will also identify areas for further development.

The report will be presented to a wide range of stakeholder groups and also to the region’s elected politicians.

We want to acknowledge the generous support for the Barker Mill Estate for this project. We are seeking organisations willing to host each of the five seminars.

Our researcher, James Dobson, started work on 22ndOctober on a five-month contract.

The project is being overseen by a steering committee with representatives from local government, business, Westminster and LEPs.


Prof John Denham, Director, Southern Policy Centre

[1]Speaking at an SPC seminar in May 2017, Lord O’Neill said that the only proposal that was even considered by Ministers was that from Portsmouth-Southampton-IoW. The proposal has now been rejected by government.

LEPs and the central South – join us for our seminar with PwC

Since their establishment in 2010, Local Enterprise Partnerships have been integral to economic growth across England. In July this year the Government sought to strengthen their role, making proposals designed to ensure they are fit for purpose. Join us for our free seminar, organised in conjunction with PwC, which offers an opportunity to learn how our local LEPs see their future role and discuss how they can help fulfil the needs of the Central South of England.

Date: Monday December 3rd. 8.30am – 10.30am

Venue: PwC, 3 Ocean Way, Southampton. SO14 3TJ

The full event flyer can be seen here: SPC:PWC LEP seminar flyer


Collaborative Culture: the challenges for cultural partnerships in the central south

Our area has a rich arts and cultural offer, with a wide variety of organisations and strong levels of public engagement.  Our report, undertaken on behalf of Arts Council England and with support from the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire (PUSH), examines the collaborative arrangements which exist to facilitate joint working between arts and cultural organisations in Dorset, Hampshire and the Central South coastal unitary councils.

To read the report, click here: SPC Collaborative Culture Report Revise October 2018 – WEB VERSION

‘A great place to live…if you can afford it’

The Central South is recognised as having some of the highest housing costs outside London. Our report, undertaken on behalf of Enterprise M3 LEP and Radian housing association, reviews the cost of house rental and purchase in our region and quantifies those costs, showing how they have increased in recent years. It also explores the impacts of those costs on the affordability of housing, on patterns of rental and purchase, and on commuting behaviour.

At the heart of this study is an examination of how the Central South’s business community believe high housing costs affect them. Drawing on survey data and interviews, it reveals a concern for their ability to recruit to professional, technical and support roles, and a fear amongst some that an inability to attract skilled staff will force them to re-examine plans for growth and investment, and perhaps even consider relocation.

To read the full report, click here: SPC Housing Report Revise October 2018 – WEB VERSION

House prices in the Central South risk damaging public services

House prices in the Central South risk damaging public services

Public services may be at risk because key workers cannot afford to live in the region, research by the Southern Policy Centre has revealed.

House prices across Berkshire, Dorset, Hampshire, Surrey and Wiltshire are already among the highest in the UK outside London. Quite how affordable they are to local workers is measured by the ratio of the average* house prices in an area to the average salary earned by local residents. In the Surrey towns of Dorking, Esher, Leatherhead and Weybridge, for example, the average house price is 14.5 times the salary of local residents – so home ownership is beyond the reach of many. Even in the cities of Southampton and Portsmouth, where prices are lower, the ratio of house price to salary is 7.5.

For those in many public services, where salaries are traditionally lower, the barrier to home-ownership is greater. In Dorking, for example, a mid-priced house for the area would cost 19.2 times the salary of a teacher at the middle of their pay range. In the ten least affordable districts across the Central South the same house would cost that teacher 14.6 times their annual salary, compared with 12.7 times the average salary of all local workers.

For others the picture is even harsher. An experienced Staff Nurse who hopes to live in Dorking, Esher, Leatherhead or Weybridge faces average house prices 23 times their annual salary. Even in the areas with lowest prices, a mid-priced house will cost over 8 times their salary.

For hard-pressed hospitals trying to recruit nurses, local house prices can be a real barrier. The table below shows for the areas where the Central South’s major hospitals are located the ratio of house prices to salary for all those working locally and to the salary of a Staff Nurse. In every case, those nurses face prices many times their salary, and a bigger barrier to home ownership than many others working in the area.

Hospital Location Ratio of prices to salary
Average Salary (all workers) Nurse’s Salary
Queen Alexandra Portsmouth 7.5 8.1
Southampton General Southampton 7.5 8.4
Poole Poole 9.9 11.1
Royal Bournemouth Bournemouth 8.8 9.9
Salisbury Wiltshire 8.9 10.5
Royal Berkshire Reading 9.2 12.0
North Hampshire Basingstoke & Deane 8.9 12.2
Royal Hampshire Winchester 11.2 16.4
Royal Surrey Guildford 11.8 17.5
Frimley Park Surrey Heath 10.3 16.2

Dr Simon Eden, Associate at the Southern Policy Centre, who led the research, said:

“We all know that our region is an expensive place to live. But SPC’s research highlights just how much of a challenge nurses, teachers and others on modest salaries face in trying to get on the housing ladder. Without action to help people who are vital part of our communities we face a very real threat to the continuity of services we all rely on.”