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East Sussex Economy Recovery Plan: East Sussex Reset


Published: September 2020
Valid until: 2024

The East Sussex Economy Recovery Plan 'East Sussex Reset' aims to build sustainable prosperity for our businesses, voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors, and support residents to access new opportunities that drive economic recovery and resilience.

Developed by Team East Sussex (TES) in direct response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Economy Recovery Plan focuses on businesses, skills and employment in a post COVID-19 landscape. The plan also supports other activities being progressed at a local level, including climate change and health and wellbeing initiatives.

The plan seeks to deliver the change that is required – both as a response to the pandemic but also to capitalise on the opportunities it presents. Change should be a positive one and help to drive inclusive growth across the county.

The plan was published in September 2020, alongside a detailed Action Plan that covered a period of eighteen months. Whilst those actions have now been completed, the Economy Recovery Plan remains in place as the overarching economic development strategy for the county, and will eventually lead to the future publication of a new East Sussex Economic Growth Strategy in 2024.

The full East Sussex Reset brochure is published in PDF format, so may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. A more accessible version is given below, and the full brochure is available on request from the Economic Development team.

A number of supplementary documents that describe the overall context of the work, including the original consultation and context reports developed through the summer of 2020, plus the detailed Action Plan, are also available on request.

Contact us: email the Economic Development team.

East Sussex Reset: Six missions, recovery as opportunity

We are at a pivotal moment in the lives of businesses in East Sussex. We need to reset, to adapt and build resilience for the future.

We must seize the opportunities for long-term change now, so that we can build a stronger, more inclusive and more sustainable future for the East Sussex economy. Ours is a beautiful, agile county awake to the challenges, poised for growth and ready to move forward with confidence.

This Team East Sussex guide summarises the issues that we have to address, the changes we should make and the resources we can access. Our plans are organic, they will continue to respond to the demands of the rapidly changing world in which we live.

We invite all businesses in the county to contribute to, and benefit from, the initiatives we are seeking to put in place.

Introduction: Forward not back

The COVID-19 pandemic has had, and continues to have, a significant impact on the lives of those who live and work in the county. As elsewhere in the world, it also disrupts business, employment and economic growth.

In response, Team East Sussex has produced a comprehensive strategic action plan which is summarised here. The plan is the result of an intensive dialogue with over 50 partner organisations, from Council members and educational institutions to industry leaders and small businesses.

Facing the future

Looking forward we believe we can create real change and opportunity, not just recover. The delivery programme shows how. It focuses on business, skills, employment and place while acknowledging the wider impact of the pandemic on society and the many interdependent initiatives already underway.

It aims to achieve the resilience and renewal necessary for the county’s future economic activity.

Leading the initiative is Team East Sussex, the local federated board for the South East Local Enterprise Partnership. We are coordinating the programme, lobbying government for supportive action and developing the case for future funding.

Our membership is made up of business, local authority, social enterprise and education representatives from across the county. These strong partnerships are at the core of the programme.

A dynamic plan

We will manage and constantly monitor the action plan to make sure it is working positively, taking advantage of all opportunities in responding to the pandemic. We encourage all businesses, organisations and enterprises to be actively involved in our developing plan, so please get in touch and give us your support.

Graham Peters
Chairman, Team East Sussex

Six Missions

We have identified six missions to support the East Sussex economy and livelihoods. Each one aims to go beyond just recovery to reset the opportunities for businesses, employers and employees while improving the local infrastructure and environment.

Each mission is explained below.

Six overlapping circles making up a larger circle around the wording 'Six missions'. Each smaller circle contains a mission. Mission 1 Thinking local, acting local. Mission 2 Building skills, creating jobs. Mission 3 Fast-forwarding business. Mission 4 Better places, fuller lives. Mission 5 Cleaner energy, greener transport. Mission 6 The future is digital.
Economy Recovery Plan six missions

Mission 1: Thinking local, acting local

We believe it is important to rethink how we can benefit by being locally minded. This gives businesses an opportunity to turn recovery into growth and build investment in the local economy.

We are initiating a Buy Local supply chain programme across all business sectors to stimulate local enterprise and a countywide Good Food growth campaign.

An inward investment strategy aimed at London and Home Counties is underway to take advantage of any shift towards home and local working, to reduce commuting and to encourage businesses of all kinds to consider relocating to East Sussex.

The Business East Sussex Growth Hub will be the first point of contact for business to access business advice, relevant grants, loans and funds from government and other sources to help them adapt, recover and grow.

It makes sense for businesses and public sector organisations to focus their procurement on local contractors, suppliers and providers. This helps to support local employment and training too.

A newly launched Business Hothouse programme will provide support to embryonic entrepreneurs currently looking to start a business.

Mission 2: Building skills, creating jobs

Recognising the likely impact on the economy of high unemployment, particularly amongst young people, we urgently need to retain our local skills, support employment and grow an agile workforce with greater skills levels.

We will offer targeted support for the development of sector specific skills, and for furloughed and redundant employees, in conjunction with employers and skills providers.

Acknowledging the likelihood of high unemployment among young people, we will actively promote job placements, apprenticeships and traineeships through employer incentive schemes and local networks.

We are working with education to deliver training, including basic skills, short courses and digital skills programmes for tomorrow’s workforce. Plans include work academies to help young people into employment, and new courses and learning packages for businesses to aid their recovery and growth.

A Careers Hub has been established to support the development of young people’s employability skills, including virtual employer encounters or workplace experiences, and parental engagement.

An East Sussex website providing up-to-date information on jobs available, career choices and learning opportunities for adults and young people seeking employment has been created.

Mission 3: Fast-forwarding business

The service and retail economy is vital to East Sussex, particularly the creative and cultural sector, as well as the leisure, hospitality and tourism industries. Our aim is to get these businesses back on their feet and people back into work.

A programme to assist the tourism sector is now underway across the south east. We will develop a coordinated media campaign across Sussex with relevant and up-to-date content. This includes a Buy Local, Stay Local website to promote local food and drink businesses, and the promotion of Sussex Modern, 1066 Country and Visit Eastbourne.

South East Creatives and other complementary programmes will help businesses and freelancers adapt to the changing environment. We are re-designing the Creative Open Workspace programme to respond to the shift towards home working and local working.

We continue to work with the voluntary sector in our communities and develop activities for residents, acknowledging the significant effects on wellbeing caused by the pandemic.

Mission 4: Better places, fuller lives

We can improve lives and places by taking steps to encourage local engagement and diversity. We need to shape our county for a sustainable, inclusive and resilient future.

As the recovery develops, people will use space in different ways. We will support the revival and adaptation of town centres, including COVID-19 secure spaces.

We have a strategy to empower local communities to help shape places and reflect the county’s diversity. Our district and borough councils are streamlining processes for change of use.

We will support adapting empty retail sites and spaces in ways that improve local facilities and we are investigating what kinds of property businesses really need in order to grow. We also want to encourage open-air trading and business activity.

We have already secured substantial amounts of money through the Local Growth, Getting Building and Growing Places funds, all of which will help provide jobs and growth across the county.

We will support and promote applications to future and current funding streams such as the Future High Streets, Stronger Towns, Sector Support and Emergency Active Travel funds. We will maximize the county’s opportunities to participate in the Shared Prosperity Fund when it is announced in the autumn.

Mission 5: Cleaner energy, greener transport

We want to make sure our reset takes account of the drive towards a low-carbon, circular economy.

We are planning ways in which clean energy technologies and de-carbonisation projects can be accelerated.

We have created an energy retrofit programme for local suppliers to help them reduce their costs and emissions.

We will actively promote the take-up of walking and cycling that benefits both the environment and people’s health, and deploy new government funding for greener transport infrastructure.

Partners are developing approaches to support the increasing uptake of electric vehicles across the county.

Our low-carbon programme is underway and provides SMEs with free energy audits as well as grants for energy efficiency and renewable schemes.

East Sussex Energy Partnership’s Winter Home Energy Service supports those in fuel poverty and our Warmer Sussex programme helps householders to retrofit domestic energy efficiency measures.

Mission 6: The future is digital

We believe that now is the time to capitalise and grow digital connectivity to support the transformation of business and the local economy.

We will continue to invest in fast broadband for businesses and homes throughout East Sussex.

We recognise the need to increase digital access, resources and skills for deprived areas and communities.

While promoting the rapid adoption of 5G technology we will continue to lobby for funding to deliver faster broadband speeds and greater coverage for mobile, voice and data.

We are developing proposals for those working from home to help reduce energy and unnecessary commuting, and to keep our communities more lively during the working week.

We are planning to deliver tutorials to help businesses and homeworkers make the most of smart technology and aid troubleshooting.

What’s next?

East Sussex is a county with many faces. Remarkable for its cultural and environmental richness, it enjoys a lifestyle that is special even amongst England’s south east counties.

Readily accessible from the capital and with international connections at Gatwick and the Channel ports, East Sussex claims an innovative and agile edge. As business increasingly looks at different ways of working, this reset can enable East Sussex to move forward with optimism as an enviable place to live, work and visit.

This can only be done in partnership with those in a position to effect change. The initiatives we highlight are positive and relevant to every business, organisation and enterprise. By collaborating closely, we will build a resilient future for all those who live and work in the county.


Team East Sussex acknowledges the vital support of East Sussex County Council and the participation of all partners and contributors.

If you would like to receive progress updates on the delivery of the actions in the Economy Recovery Plan, please sign-up for the Growth Hub newsletter.

Your email address will not be shared beyond Team East Sussex and will not be used for marketing purposes.

For more details on the national and local support available to help your business, visit the Business East Sussex Growth Hub or call the team on 01273 335878.

If you have ideas of your own to seize opportunities arising as a result of the pandemic, we’d love to hear them.
Email: info@businesseastsussex.org.uk