West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, met with his Regional Recovery Taskforce yesterday (3 November) to discuss the impact of new Covid-19 restrictions coming in on Thursday 5 November.
“The work we have done as a taskforce over the last six months means we have a clear Regional Recovery Plan in place, that builds on the strengths of our region and addresses some of the challenges we face as the pandemic continues. We already have strong business support in the region and we will work to align this with the extra Government support – this will maximise the positive impact on businesses and employees,” he said.
“The West of England Combined Authority has a range of support for businesses and residents impacted by the pandemic. We have worked with thousands of businesses this year, helping them with everything from improving their online trading to retraining employees.
“We have also committed £9.4m to implementing the Regional Recovery Plan – this is in addition to the £100m already allocated to businesses and skills over the next four years.”
Steve West, Chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership and Vice Chair of the Taskforce, said: “We’re working together to act quickly to ensure additional support coming from Government – which will be about £23m – is used to the maximum benefit for our businesses and residents. Our immediate focus is on ensuring that people don’t fall between gaps in support and fall into crisis. We need to ensure our region’s businesses get the help that they need to survive the ongoing impact of Covid-19 and keep people in jobs. We then have to think about the region’s skills needs in the future.”
A range of support packages are available through WECA’s Growth Hub, responding directly to what businesses say are critical for recovery and renewal.
It builds on the work that the Combined Authority has led during the pandemic including investment to support residents to walk or cycle, expanding skills programmes such as Future Bright to help residents find employment and support for businesses to adapt and recover.
Taskforce member Joanne Rumley, a partner at Foot Anstey, said: “The West of England Growth Hub isn’t just about growing businesses – it is there to support all kinds of small to medium-sized businesses, whatever their situation is. If your business needs help to survive through the pandemic then please get in touch with the Growth Hub.”
Support available includes:
Business Innovation Fund – providing SMEs with tailored support and funding to bring new products, services and processes to market.
Workforce for the Future – an £8m fund aimed at helping SMEs plan and support their current and future workforce.
Trading Better Online – helping businesses improve digital presence
Thrive at Work West of England – a free tool to help SMEs support staff with mental health support.
Creative-Scale Up – helping creative businesses access finance through regional and national investment, also providing intensive business support.
Green Business Grants – supporting SMEs to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.
Businesses wanting to find out more, including those considering making redundancies, should get in touch with our West of England Growth Hub www.wearegrowth.co.uk
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call: 0117 4566955
WECA has also adapted its Future Bright programme to help people cope with the impact of Covid-19; by providing dedicated 1:1 coaching support for people who have:
- Been made redundant or laid off
- Are at risk of redundancy
- Have had their hours significantly reduced (and therefore their income)
- Are self-employed and income or ability to earn has been severely impacted
- Are furloughed (if their reduced income means they are eligible for Universal Credit)
If you need support, contact Future Bright:
- Bath & North East Somerset:Email email@example.com or call 01225 395555
- Bristol:Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0117 9222250
- South Gloucestershire:Email email@example.com or call 01454 866008
Following a rise in Covid-19 cases, including across the West of England, the Mayor is calling on residents and businesses to re-double their efforts to follow the Government’s rules as England faces new restrictions from Thursday 5 November.
Regional Mayor Tim Bowles added: “We can see that the virus is spreading at an alarming rate across the West of England and further action is unfortunately needed. I urge everyone to remain patient, be responsible and follow the new rules, staying at home unless there is an essential reason to go out.
“I know that these new restrictions are of great concern to residents and businesses, but it is vital that we listen to the advice from the NHS and Government. Through supporting each other, following the guidelines and adapting our way of life we can slow the spread of the virus and begin to recover as quickly as possible.
“We are also working with Government and public transport providers to ensure there is a safe and efficient service for those who really need it, but I urge people to only travel if necessary, in line with the Government’s guidance.
“I am keen to see that the West of England makes a safe and smooth transition out of the national restrictions after 2 December. I am working with our colleagues in Government to ensure that support is in place for our region’s businesses and residents as part of the exit strategy from the national restrictions.”
Case numbers in the region are as follows:
- In the week ending 29 October 2020, there were 3,414 confirmed positive cases of covid-19 in the West of England – 295.1 cases per 100,000 people.
- This rate has risen from 226.4 per 100,000 in the week before, and 43.0 four weeks ago.
- By comparison, England experienced 225.5 cases per 100,000 people in this week.
- The R number for the South West is 1.2-1.5.
|w/e 29 October 2020||Cases per 100,000 people||Change from previous week|
|Bath & North East Somerset||230.7||+54.8|
|West of England||295.1||+68.7|
The West of England Recovery Taskforce has been set up to drive the West of England’s economic recovery following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. As one of the most productive regions in the UK, the West of England is key to leading the national recovery through these difficult times.
The taskforce is made up of senior figures from industry, education and local government who all bring a range of expertise to the taskforce, and is led by Regional Mayor, Tim Bowles.