The West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership are committed to supporting our region’s residents and businesses through coronavirus.
Public safety is the top priority. We are urging people to stay alert and keep safe through social distancing. The Government’s full guidance is available here: https://bit.ly/CV19StayAlert.
We’re taking action to help people and businesses immediately affected. We’re working with regional partners, and with government, to ensure people and businesses across the region are getting the support they need.
We have set up a new taskforce to drive our region’s economic recovery. Led by Regional Mayor, Tim Bowles, this is a partnership between the West of England Combined Authority, the Local Enterprise Partnership, business, universities and the region’s councils.
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.
Our continued support includes:
- Talking to businesses of all sizes, helping them get the support they need as well as capturing their concerns and ensuring their voices are heard by government
- Our business support service, the West of England Growth Hub, is the place to go for up-to-date information for small and medium-sized enterprises. We have secured significant extra funding from Government to step up our Growth Hub support. Visit wearegrowth.co.uk for regular updates on the latest information and advice.
- Working with our councils and the NHS to co-ordinate work to encourage businesses to manufacture ventilators and come forward with essential PPE equipment to support NHS and care workers on the front line.
- Setting up a Covid-19 Business Response Panel, chaired by West of England Mayor Tim Bowles – including regional leads from across the business support and banking sector; helping to align efforts and ensure financial support is reaching our businesses most in need.
- We’re adapting our business support and skills programmes, which offer significant investment opportunities for our region’s economy, to reflect the changing needs of businesses. This includes Creative Scale Up, Mentoring for Growth and Workforce for the Future.
- Expanding our career coaching and support service, Future Bright, to help people whose jobs and income have been affected by coronavirus. This includes those who are eligible for Universal Credit due to redundancy, reduced hours/ income, furloughed employees and self-employed workers.
- Providing reassurance to the region’s colleges and training organisations that we’ll carry on paying our funded adult education providers for the rest of the academic year, despite the impact of Covid-19 on their delivery. This will help minimise disruption to learners, ensure that staff can continue to be paid and support the overall financial stability of the providers in the longer term.
- Ensuring public transport is in place to support key workers and others who need to travel, successfully lobbying government to cover the losses of bus companies over the next three months.
- Creating two new travel update pages to assist people who still need to travel: a main Coronavirus Travel Advice page – highlighting safety advice and changes to bus services/ community transport; a Key Workers Travel Advice page – highlighting bus services to main hospitals, free car parking and cycling offers for key workers.
- Helping our councils and registered housing providers to address the critical need for emergency accommodation for homeless and vulnerable people by co-ordinating additional support across the West of England.
- Metro Mayors from across the country continue to work closely together, with regional partners, and Government, to ensure people and businesses across the regions they represent are getting the support they need. Devolution is now more important than ever. We can bring our regions together; we know what our regions need, and it is clear what sectors of our economies will need specific support.
- We’re tracking the impact of the pandemic on our region’s economy, building up the picture over time, drawing on what businesses are telling us, and the economic indicators available. We’re putting together weekly briefings intended to deepen our understanding of the challenges faced by businesses across the region’s industries, and where there might be gaps in support coming from government. You can find the latest briefing here.
For information on covid-19 testing (including who is eligible and how to book a test), please visit: https://bnssghealthiertogether.org.uk/get-involved/testing-for-covid-19/