West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the LEP take further action as unemployment claims rise by a fifth

West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the LEP ramp up support as the ONS identifies over 106,000 jobless claimants in region

18 June 2020

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (the LEP) are putting skills and training at the heart of efforts to support those seeking work as a result of COVID-19, as new figures show unemployment across the region has risen by a fifth.  

May 2020 saw month-on-month jobless claimants in West Yorkshire rise by 22% to a total of 106,700 according to the latest ONS (Office for National Statistics) data. Nationally, jobless claimants rose by 512,500, a 29% increase. 

In response, the Combined Authority and LEP continue to provide range of training, advice and support packages to help businesses and people affected by COVID-19. The Combined Authority has also formed the West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Board to bring together public and private sector leaders from across the region to lead West Yorkshire’s recovery from the pandemic, with skills and education forming a central part of the agenda. 

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

“These figures show the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on families, livelihoods and businesses, and the challenge we face as we begin to rebuild our economy.  Developing a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable economy is at the centre of our recovery plans.  

This starts with making sure people can find the support they need to access skills and training to rebuild their future and livelihoods. Our historic West Yorkshire devolution deal will bring £1.8 billion-plus in funding under local control, allowing us to invest in skills and training, which will be vital to support our economic recovery from COVID-19.”   

Councillor Shabir Pandor, Chair of the Inclusive Growth and Public Policy Panel and Leader of Kirklees Council, said:  

“As we look to recover from the pandemic, it will be vital that we focus on rebuilding an inclusive and sustainable economy that works for everyone. 

“With over 100,000 jobless claimants in West Yorkshire, it is now more important than ever that we focus on inclusive growth and invest in skills and training that is accessible to all to ensure everyone in our region has the opportunity to benefit from an inclusive and sustainable economy.” 

In response to COVID-19, the LEP and Combined Authority have put in place a package of measures to help support the region’s economy and address the immediate need to safeguard the thousands of jobs and businesses affected by the pandemic 

This includes providing direct support to over 3,000 companies through the LEP’s business support service, as well as capital grants, webinars and mentoring support for affected firms. 

The Employment Hub, an existing three-year programme run in partnership with the LEP and nine delivery partners, has been adapted to support businesses and individuals with employment needs and challenges caused by COVID-19. Free, impartial support is being offered to help businesses recruit quickly to keep up with the demands of COVID-19. 

Free digital skills courses through the [re]boot programme, and remote learning resources for parents and teachers to improve the employability of young people through the FutureGoals Remote initiative are being offered to help workers and young people develop new skills during lockdown.   

The West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Board has identified business, innovation and tradeemployment and skillsinclusive growthenvironment and carbon, and infrastructure as key areas of focus as the region looks to recover after the COVID-19 pandemic. By putting in place plans to address these five priorities, the Economic Recovery Board aims to improve living standards, skills and opportunities, and support business. 

The latest unemployment data coupled with the fact that the economy shrank by 20% in April highlights the importance of a targeted recovery plan that focuses on skills and training.  

According to the ONS, the unemployment rate in West Yorkshire has increased from from 3.9% to 7.3%compared to the national unemployment rate of 6.5%.