Mayor of West Yorkshire and region’s leaders agree plan and vision for Covid recovery
West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Plan reveals vision to secure a fair, just and lasting recovery following end of Covid restrictions.
An updated Economic Recovery Plan for the region was unveiled at today’s meeting of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. West Yorkshire Leaders were asked to review the refreshed version of the Plan which doubles down on economic recovery and refocuses on plans for levelling up and tackling the climate emergency.
The new document builds on previous iterations of the Economic Recovery Plan and moves the focus from rescuing our economy to re-imagining and building resilience. It aims to secure a fair, just and lasting recovery for everyone across our region, ensuring that all can benefit from our recovery.
West Yorkshire has felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular on our health services, businesses, local institutions and our residents, with some areas in the region facing longer restrictions than most other places in the UK.
At the peak of lockdown, over 300,000 workers across West Yorkshire were on furlough. In addition, unemployment claims rose by 84%, and apprenticeship starts also fell by 22% at the start of the 2020 academic year.
While the unemployment rate across the region has remained lower than many forecasters anticipated, certain groups have been significantly affected with unemployment and economic inactivity disproportionally high for 16–24 year olds.
To tackle the issues during the pandemic, the Combined Authority took early action by investing £13.5m to support 10,000 individuals who are unemployed, furloughed or need to update their skills, back towards employment.
The LEP and the five West Yorkshire local authorities have also continued to support residents and businesses in the region, and with support from Government, have already helped to distribute over £1 billion of support to businesses.
The end of both the Furlough Scheme and the uplift in Universal Credit this month makes the goal of economic recovery even more pressing. The updated Economic Recovery Plan builds on our response to the pandemic so far and supports efforts to build a resilient region that tackles inequalities head-on.
Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: ‘I was elected as the first ever Mayor of West Yorkshire in May 2021, more than a year into a pandemic that has put West Yorkshire through some of its most challenging times in living memory. Visiting people and places across our region, I have seen up close the impact this has had on our economy and social fabric, widening inequalities of health and wealth.
‘People in West Yorkshire have met the challenges of the pandemic with determination, resilience and togetherness. Our lasting recovery must build on this.
‘Our Plan has two main areas of focus: to deliver inclusive growth for everyone across our region and ensuring that our plans tackle the climate and environment emergency. These golden threads will drive every action of this Plan – from creating 1,000 skilled green jobs, providing affordable and sustainable housing, prioritising skills and training for all, connecting people through public transport, to delivering a creative New Deal for our fantastic creative industries.
‘I am fully committed to delivering the actions contained within this Plan over the next three years as the Mayor of West Yorkshire. However, to deliver the change we seek, we need to do it collaboratively with our local authorities, partners and with businesses. Genuine Government commitment to levelling up and co-investing in our region, would help us go even further. As we turn the words of ‘fair, just, and lasting’ into action, we will make big and bold steps in building a more resilient West Yorkshire.’
The Plan will be revised over the coming weeks as the impact of ending the Furlough Scheme becomes clearer. The Economic Recovery Plan will also be supported by the Business Productivity and Resilience Plan which positions boosting business productivity as a key pillar of delivering an inclusive recovery for the region.