The West of England Combined Authority was formed to champion the region and drive clean and inclusive economic growth.
Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire councils came together to fight for devolution because they could see the value in this new way of doing things, looking beyond council boundaries to benefit people who live and work in the region.
WECA was established in early 2017 and the West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, was elected in May 2017. A second election was held in May 2021 and Dan Norris was elected by residents in Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
Devolution has given us an opportunity to be ambitious for our region at a scale not seen before.
It means that we are making decisions here in the West of England about the things that affect us all every day – decisions about homes, transport, the skills we need and how we can support our businesses, for the benefit of everyone.
Our ability to talk to central government as a Combined Authority, with one voice, is one of the key benefits of devolution. As a region, working together, we have demonstrated that we have clear and ambitious plans and Government has recognised this by investing in our future.
As a result of devolution, significant powers and funding were transferred to our region through the West of England Combined Authority and the West of England Mayor. These new powers mean action is being taken in the region to address our challenges. In total £1.15bn of new funding has been secured for the WECA region, because we have a Combined Authority.
Local Industrial Strategy and regional recovery
During 2019/20, WECA agreed its Local Industrial Strategy with Government. This is a long-term strategy for clean and inclusive growth, investing in an extensive programme of activity across infrastructure, skills and business to support our residents and economy.
This has formed the basis for our Regional Recovery Plan, led by the Recovery Taskforce, which includes measures to help businesses adapt to the new economic landscape and improve resilience, as well as support for residents to develop new skills, training and employment opportunities.
Our Recovery Plan has five key ambitions:
- Rebuilding business, helping new and existing businesses to survive and thrive; to safeguard existing, and create new jobs
- Getting residents back into jobs that pay above the living wage and offer employment security, through training and work to match skills to opportunities
- Strengthen inclusion, preventing further widening of inequalities and building an inclusive economy where everyone has the opportunity to achieve their potential
- A green recovery, using changes in behaviour brought about by the pandemic to accelerate transition to net zero carbon
- Renewing places, creating greener, healthier, more vibrant places to live and work.