Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council said:
“Although the future impact of COVID-19 is still uncertain, we know that the path to a thriving economy that works for everyone is likely to be long and difficult so we need to get started now in planning that. It is going to take a huge collective effort to ensure that West Yorkshire emerges with a sustainable and resilient economy, which is why we are bringing together the leading organisations in our region to fight together for a successful future.
“As we have seen in other recent economic downturns, our region faces particular challenges that mean some people in our society will feel the impact of this pandemic more acutely than others. With over 70% of businesses now reporting having furloughed staff, and with 220,000 people in our region employed in industries that have already been effectively shut down by this crisis, we must act now to protect jobs and livelihoods – particularly in less secure parts of the economy.
“We are already working together through the Local Resilience Forum and other regional partnerships to respond to the immediate crisis. By joining forces through this Economic Recovery Board and by making the most of opportunities such as our recently secured devolution deal, we can consider how to give West Yorkshire the best chance of recovery in future.”
The West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Board will use evidence about the specific impacts of the pandemic on the region to put in place targeted measures to ensure businesses and people receive the right support.
It will consider how existing strategies, including the Local Industrial Strategy and transport plans should be adapted to take account of a new economic reality as a result of COVID-19, for example by investing in regional supply chains and expanding active and other forms of clean travel to capitalise on improvements in air quality as a result of the lockdown.
The Board will also provide a strong, collective voice for the region to Government, making the most of the opportunities offered by the historic West Yorkshire devolution deal council leaders agreed in March to put in place tailored support to rebuild a prosperous, competitive and inclusive economy.