Combined Authority to review plans to help West Yorkshire economy recover from COVID-19

Combined Authority to be updated on work of the West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Board alongside actions to provide immediate support for businesses

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority will discuss long term plans for the region’s economic recovery alongside actions it is taking to provide immediate support for businesses at its meeting next week. 

The Combined Authority will be updated on the work of the West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Board. Using the latest available economic and labour market intelligence, it has identified its priorities for action as: 

  • Business, innovation and trade 
  • Employment and skills 
  • Inclusive growth 
  • Environment and carbon 
  • Infrastructure and capital projects.

The work of the Economic Recovery Board will complement plans being produced by West Yorkshire councils to drive recovery locally, and regional health plans, while the Transport Committee is developing detailed short and long-term plans for transport across the region. 

The work of the Board will also be used to inform Government about what investment is required to drive the region’s recovery. 

The Combined Authority will also consider how the support it is already offering in partnership with the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) could develop further as West Yorkshire emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said: 

“We’ve seen more life return to our towns and cities this week but the indications are that the economic impact of the pandemic will be felt for some time in our communities. We need to do everything possible to protect jobs and family incomes and secure the Government support our region needs. 

“Helping West Yorkshire recover from COVID-19 means putting in place plans to support the economy now, as well as thinking long-term about how we rebuild and do so in a way that supports a more inclusive society and levels up our economy.” 

Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Lead, said: 

“As West Yorkshire continues to reopen it is clear that pressure on the public transport system will grow with it, given the need to maintain social distancing. We continue to press the Government to work with us to agree long-term funding to ensure services are there for people who rely on them. 

“Investment in the transport infrastructure we need, including HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail with a city centre station in Bradford, will be central to supporting the region’s economic recovery.” 

The West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Board brings together leaders of West Yorkshire’s five councils, alongside senior representatives from organisations that will be integral to the region’s recovery. 

It will make a series of recommendations to the Combined Authority, aimed at building on the strengths and opportunities of West Yorkshire’s economy to improve living standards, skills and opportunities, and support business. 

A report to be considered by the Combined Authority also sets out further advice, support and funding to be made available to help businesses recover and return to work safely, diversify into new markets and build their digital capacity. 

This extra support is in addition to actions already taken by the Combined Authority and LEP in response to the pandemic so far: 

  • The LEP’s Business Support Service received 3,000 enquiries between the end of March and mid-May
  • SME Growth managers are providing intensive support to 500 businesses 
  • Ongoing engagement with over 30 of the region’s largest organisations to protect employment and operations 
  • In partnership with the University of Huddersfield, the Department for International Trade and the Textiles Centre of Excellence, a programme of support for businesses that want to manufacture or supply healthcare products 
  • Supporting the public transport network including emergency help for the bus network and Combined Authority staff working to ensure the continued opening of bus stations and interchanges.