A new taskforce is being set up to drive the West of England’s economic recovery.
Led by Regional Mayor, Tim Bowles, the new West of England Economic Recovery Board is a partnership between the West of England Combined Authority, the Local Enterprise Partnership, business, universities and the region’s councils.
“Coronavirus is having a profound impact on all parts of our economy,” said Tim. “The government has taken unprecedented steps to provide a lifeline to many of our businesses and residents, but now we need to build on this with a specific West of England recovery plan.
“The Combined Authority has already been proactive and started this work. Now this new task force will mean our region can work together to put in place the measures we need to support our residents and businesses for the medium and long-term. That way, rather than just getting back on our feet, we’ll be able to emerge stronger than before.
“This new group will bring partners together to make sure the West of England speaks to Government with one voice, to ensure our region’s needs are heard nationally.”
Chair of the West of England LEP, Professor Steve West, added: “We must work together to ensure that we rebuild on the strengths of our economy. As one of the most productive regions in the UK, the West of England is key to leading the national recovery.
“We remain focused on our longer-term ambitions for clean growth that benefits every resident, as set out in our region’s Local Industrial Strategy, but we have to consider carefully what else we have to do to rebuild our region, which is why the new taskforce will look at some specific sectors too.”
The task force will initially:
- Put together a recovery plan, including 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.
- Look at the impact of the government’s economic measures on businesses and communities, identifying where additional support is needed.
- Feedback to government, lobbying to ensure the West of England has what it needs for economic recovery; advising and supporting a managed exit from lockdown arrangements, identifying the next stages of financial support needed.
- Make sure the West of England has the right public transport, physical and digital infrastructure. WECA is already working with bus and rail companies to ensure key workers can get to work. This work with public transport partners will continue, to ensure they continue to operate as we move into recovery.
A number of sector groups will also be set up to help shape recovery plans, including: creative and digital; aerospace and advanced engineering; professional services; retail, hospitality and tourism; food and drink; transport and logistics; commercial property market; rural economy; low carbon. The task force will also consider the impact on black and minority ethnic businesses and communities, and the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector.
The existing Covid-19 Business Response Panel – set up by Regional Mayor, Tim Bowles, in March, will also play a role. This panel includes: Business West, Federation of Small Businesses, Destination Bristol & Visit Bath, British Business Bank, Confederation of British Industry, Institute of Directors, Lloyds, Barclays, NatWest, and HSBC.
More details about group members will be announced soon.
The group will be supported by a team at the West of England Combined Authority, with additional secondees from partners, including businesses across the region.