Combined Authority to invest devolution funding in skills to support region’s recovery from COVID-19 pandemic

£13.5 million of devolution funding to significantly expand support for skills, training and job seekers

Plans to invest £13.5 million of devolution funding to significantly expand support for skills, training and job seekers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic were agreed by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority today.

The skills plans are designed to partially fill the gap in Government support for businesses and people affected by the national lockdown and the return to tiered restrictions next week.

The Combined Authority will use £13.5 million of funding secured through the West Yorkshire devolution deal to help over 10,000 people in the region, who have been made redundant or are at risk of redundancy, to build new skills and access training or find work, over the next two years. 

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, the Future-Ready Skills Commission and Leader of Bradford Council, said: 

“From what was announced in the Spending Review, it is clear that the centralised ‘levelling-up’ fund will not deliver the accelerated recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic our region needs. 

“Rather than waiting for Government to do more, it’s vital that we invest in the region now.  This is why we are investing our own hard-won devolution money into a multi-million pound skills programme to support people right across the region into work.  We have to invest in a people-powered recovery to get us through these difficult times. 

“We won’t let Government off the hook though.  We will continue to press them to support the West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Plan which has been designed to create up to 70,000 jobs. With unemployment set to rise rapidly next year, the region needs and deserves this investment.”

Unemployment in West Yorkshire has risen by 87% from 57,000 to over 106,000 since the first national lockdown began in March, with young people and those with lower skills and qualifications the most affected.  

At today’s meeting, the Combined Authority discussed proposals to rapidly enhance and expand its successful [re]boot and Employment Hub programmes. 

  • An additional £6 million of funding will be invested in the [re]boot programme to support people unemployed / at risk of redundancy to retrain with a focus on employment opportunities across West Yorkshire  
  • An additional £7.5m to increase capacity in the Employment Hub. Delivered through partner local authorities, it will facilitate access to advice and support to help individuals access training, retraining and/ or employment.

Together these programmes have already helped almost 4,000 people

The funding for these projects will be made available from the Combined Authority’s Single Investment Fund, which forms part of the £38 million a year gainshare funding to be transferred from central government to West Yorkshire through the West Yorkshire devolution deal agreed with Government in March.  

The Single Investment Fund will give the Mayoral Combined Authority greater ability to prioritise investments in a way that will make a real difference to people and communities in West Yorkshire – including interventions on skills, businesses, inclusion, climate and infrastructure.