An ambitious plan to get Gloucestershire’s economy back on its feet in the wake of Covid-19 has been launched by Gloucestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership, GFirst LEP.
It contains an unprecedented package of interventions to get businesses up and trading again, restore business, consumer and community confidence, and offer support to those who do lose their jobs.
The pandemic brought the economy to a standstill, with thousands of businesses unable to trade and 89,000 workers in the county placed on furlough.
Now as the lockdown is eased, a series of interventions are needed to help businesses and individuals hit by the economic impact of the virus. David Owen, CEO, GFirst LEP, said:
The county is commencing on a long, complex and difficult journey in a world that has been turned upside down in just a few months.
We have produced three reports in total, the first document is an Economic Impact Report produced by Hardisty Jones outlining the likely impact on the county, districts, and business sectors. This analysis was to assist GFirst LEP develop a sector based, economic recovery plan that would help each of the district authorities in Gloucestershire to develop place-based recovery plans.
Three scenarios are presented: worst-case, middle-case, and best-case. GVA modelling of these scenarios shows that GVA is forecast to fall in quarter 2 of 2020 to between 71% (£2.9 billion) and 91% (£3.7 billion) of pre-crisis quarterly levels (£4.1 billion).
Employment initially falls fastest in the middle scenario, to 92% of the pre-crisis level in Q3 2020, a loss of 26,000 jobs, but it then starts to recover. In the worst-case scenario employment falls more in Q4 2020 and Q1 2021, after current Government support ceases, to 85% of the pre-crisis level, a loss of 49,000 jobs from the pre-crisis level of employment.
The second document is a Sector Analysis Report which has been derived primarily from work by the LEP’s Business Groups and business surveys conducted through our Growth Hub network.
And finally, the Recovery Plan – working closely with all our stakeholders from the private, public and voluntary sector, we have produced an extensive range of potential interventions that we think will get the county back on track.
Examples of these interventions include;
- A ‘Think Gloucestershire’ campaign - a promotional campaign encouraging staycations within the county, supporting local shops and restaurants, and from a business point of view, trying to support and buy from local businesses wherever possible.
- Recruiting Sector-specialist Business Advisers for the Growth Hub Network to support these sectors eg cyber/digital and manufacturing.
- A campaign to promote Gloucestershire as a ‘Work from Anywhere’ county will help to progress its ambitions to be a county that attracts workers and younger people. “Blended Working”, a mixture of working from home combined with time at a co-working site, will continue to become an accepted and expected form of working. This ambition will need to be supported by the acceleration of broadband delivery.
- Support the expected growth in Start-Up businesses - during recession and periods of high unemployment it is usual to see a growth in start-up businesses. This pattern is likely to repeat itself during this recession and possibly to a high degree as working from home becomes more widely spread. Existing provision of business support for Start-Up businesses should be reviewed with a view to ensuring online provision meets the need to support business growth in this area.
- Confirming existing Infrastructure commitments - in the Chancellor’s Budget statement in March, more than £27billion was committed to transport infrastructure between 2020 and 2025, with nearly £1billion committed to three major schemes in Gloucestershire. These included commitments to fund; the A417 'Missing Link' scheme to build a new 3.4 mile dual carriageway linking the M4 and the M5, creating an ‘all-ways’ Junction 10 of the M5 and work to improve Junction 9 at Tewkesbury. As we move from internal combustion vehicles to electric and low-emissions vehicles, we still need to address crucial issues of road safety and congestion. This funding will save lives, ease congestion and boost jobs, we need to ensure all stakeholders across the county work together to bring these important infrastructure projects to fruition.
- Building responses from the ground up, that exploit opportunities in sectors such as; advanced engineering, cyber tech, digital business transformation, agri-tech and green technology will form a cornerstone of the county’s economic recovery and ensure that people ‘Think Gloucestershire’.
To read the full Recovery Plan, please visit https://www.gfirstlep.com/news/recovery/