Combined Authority to support new generation of West Yorkshire business leaders

Combined Authority also calls on Chancellor to support West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Plan in upcoming Budget.

As the UK approaches 12 months since the beginning of the first national lockdown, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority today sets out plans to encourage a new generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders in the region.

At its upcoming meeting on 9 March, the Combined Authority will discuss proposals to encourage individuals to set up innovative, new businesses with the potential to create sustainable jobs and tackle some of the key challenges facing the region post-pandemic.  

The Combined Authority will also endorse an updated version of the West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Plan that reflects the ongoing impact of the pandemic and includes new propositions to support and grow the region’s important creative and cultural sector.  

It comes as the Combined Authority reiterates its call for Government to give its backing to the West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Plan in Wednesday’s Budget, which has the potential to create thousands of good, new jobs for local people in the high growth areas of tomorrow.  

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said: “We want to encourage a new generation of business owners to come forward from all backgrounds and communities across our region. Our support package is designed to give them the tools to build successful companies that create good jobs and a regional economy that works for everyone.  

“We are doing all we can with the resources available to us to come out of the pandemic stronger, but our regional funds only go so far. When the Chancellor presents the Budget later this week, we urge him to make good on the Government’s promises of levelling up and commit to fully funding the West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Plan so we can start to build a recovery on firm foundations.”   

Roger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of the LEP and the NP11 group of Northern local enterprise partnerships, said: “Just as West Yorkshire was the crucible of the Industrial Revolution, we want to foster a new generation of entrepreneurs and innovators who will be able to propel our region to the forefront of the industries of tomorrow. New ideas and new ways of working will help us take a leading role in tackling the challenges facing the world.  

“My thanks also to the members of the West Yorkshire Economy Recovery Board and the LEP for their efforts over the past year in helping to develop this ambitious plan for our region’s future beyond the pandemic.”  

Using money unlocked through the West Yorkshire devolution deal, the entrepreneurship support package will make available at least £6 million to encourage people from all communities across West Yorkshire to set up new businesses and help them tap into the wider sources of support that are available.  

At present, new start-ups account for 12.3% of the region’s businesses - a rate slightly lower than the national average - while 11% of business owners in the region are from a minority ethnic background.  

It will also offer intensive support to a small number of innovative businesses with the potential for high growth that are able to make a big impact on challenges such as health inequalities and the climate emergency.  

The Combined Authority will discuss the latest draft of the West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Plan, which has been updated to reflect the impact of the pandemic on the region. It also includes a proposal to support the region’s creative and cultural sector. 

The sector is highly diverse, covering advertising, marketing and publishing, gaming, and film and TV production, as well as galleries, museums, theatre and dance. Creative and cultural activity contributed over £835 million to the West Yorkshire economy in 2018, but has been severely impacted by the pandemic. 

The plan would help new creative and cultural businesses start up and grow through access to finance, develop premises for creative industries including bringing empty spaces back into use, support careers in the creative industries with skills and training, and promote the role of culture in promoting good physical and mental health.  

The Economic Recovery Plan has been developed by the West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Board, which has been convened by the Combined Authority to bring together civic, business, trade union, health and third sector leaders.