Devon Economic Assessment

The Devon economic assessment is informed by a wealth of evidence, much of which is presented on the Devonomics website This includes data from ONS, analysis of Devon’s performance in relation to productivity, baseline economic projections for Devon and the districts, analysis of social, technological, environment, economic and political trends and drivers, analysis of self-employment in Devon, challenges and opportunities linked to the transition to a low carbon economy and in-depth economic profiles for each of Devon’s eight local authority districts.

The Devon Economic Assessment in 2012 provided the following summary. Overall, in 2009 the value of Devon’s economy, measured in terms of Gross Value Added at current basic prices, was just over £12bn. To put this in to context of other similar rural authorities, the Devon economy is about 50% bigger than that of Somerset, but smaller than that of Norfolk. In 2010, the county was home to over 30,000 active enterprises. The Devon economy accounted for almost 300,000 employee jobs and almost 60,000 residents were self-employed.

In economic terms, the diversity of Devon should be considered. Within Devon there is only the one city of Exeter, which has a significant impact on the character of the Devon economy as a whole. When the hinterland of Exeter is included, Exeter is home to approaching 20% of the Devon’s resident population. To the North, South, East and West of Exeter, Devon is overwhelmingly rural. Exeter and the towns along the A38 corridor and the route of the Great Western Railway are relatively well connected. However, there are significant areas of the county which are remote from major centres of population and economic activity. Rurality and access to key economic markets is an important issue from Devon’s economy.

The Devon economy needs to be considered alongside the adjacent areas of Torbay and Plymouth. Torbay is an urban area which faces some important economic issues with a long standing dependency on seasonal tourism. Torbay currently experiences net out-commuting to neighbouring districts in Devon. Longer term interventions to address issues in Torbay are underway, including the construction of the South Devon Link Road, support for sectors such as the electronics industry and significant investment in the new South Devon College. Plymouth is a large city, with a population more than twice that of Exeter, that has long been dependent on the Naval Base which has an uncertain future. Plymouth is also seeking to change and to reposition itself as a vibrant waterfront city.

The following critical issues were highlighted in the 2012 Devon Economic Assessment:

  1. Devon’s economy is performing poorly in terms of productivity
  2. Devon has a relatively skilled workforce, however this masks significant differences at a district level
  3. Earnings are lower than average in most of Devon and link to housing affordability and relative poverty
  4. Devon has an opportunity to better exploit the assets it has for high value economic growth
  5. Devon’s towns and rural communities in more peripheral areas are falling behind
  6. Devon’s population is ageing rapidly
  7. Devon’s resilience to face environment changes is being challenged.