Coronavirus Update from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority: Protecting People and Livelihoods During the Outbreak and Preparing for the Future

The Combined Authority has taken a series of measures to protect the safety and livelihoods of the region

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has taken a series of measures to protect the safety and livelihoods of the region, focussed on three vital areas: 

 

  • Travel:  transforming the transport network to enable key workers to travel safely
  • Business: providing hundreds of businesses with direct advice and support 
  • Health and safety: supporting the governments clear guidelines on containing the spread of the virus 

Importantly, in tandem to dealing with how the outbreak has fundamentally changed the lives of workers in the region, the Leaders of the Combined Authority are now turning their attention to planning for the region’s recovery. 

Transporting Key Workers 

The Combined Authority has worked in close partnership with bus and rail operators to adapt to the crisis daily.  The priority has been to ensure resilient and safe services are available for the key workers who need them, while encouraging people to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel.  

Safeguarding Businesses 

The Combined Authority, in partnership with the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, is helping businesses through its dedicated support line (0113 348 1818), which is now speaking to up to 70 businesses a day.  This crucial guidance is also available through online resources and is evolving and changing as new measures are announced.

As part of this, the Combined Authority and the LEP are mindful that there are organisations that are still anxious about survival, and are is asking the Government to take further steps to address the immediate cashflow problems businesses are facing through a PAYE or National Insurance holiday so they are better able to protect jobs.  The team of experts working to analyse the potential future risks to the region’s economy, are also expressing concern about the potential three-month delay in the proposed support available to them. 

Health and Safety 

The Combined Authority have worked closely with all partners and organisations within the region to ensure that Government guidelines are adhered to, communicated and taken seriously to contain the spread of the virus.  

Recovery and Resilience 

All of these workstreams are now informing how the Combined Authority will begin to move into ‘Recovery’ mode to assist the region as a whole to grow, adapt and develop in a brand new economic landscape.  

 

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

“These are unprecedented times for communities and businesses.  Just as the local authorities are working seven days a week to support the effort, the Combined Authority has moved swiftly to support businesses, adapting and changing vital services during the outbreak.  It has been inspiring to see how our staff from bus stations, right through to business support services, have stepped up to help and protect our region’s safety and economy.  

“I am pleased we are able to help businesses access the support they need so they can protect jobs and ensure West Yorkshire is in the strongest possible position to recover.  

“We will work through this challenging time and when we come out the other side, we will be well-placed to support the region’s recovery with the West Yorkshire devolution deal in place, enabling us to deliver a better future for all our communities. In the coming weeks we will be setting out plans to do just that.” 

Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council and member of the Combined Authority, said: 

“Through West Yorkshire’s councils and the Combined Authority, Local Government is playing a leading role by providing support to vulnerable groups, helping businesses access help and ensure resilient and well-targeted public transport is available to key workers.  

“However, this is putting huge pressure on very limited resources. We need the Government to consider ways of supporting business to protect jobs in a way that delivers help more quickly and directly and allows local authorities to use their resources in the most effective way.”