Key figures from West London’s councils joined leading business representatives yesterday (29 September) to discuss the pivotal role West London will play in kick-starting the UK’s economic recovery.
The online Capital West London ‘Build and Recover’ Summit brought together borough leaders from the West London Alliance (WLA) with industry experts to debate how their bold and ambitious economic recovery plan will support communities and businesses worst hit by the colossal impact of COVID-19.
The newly published ‘Build and Recover’ Strategy from the West London Alliance (made up of the seven London boroughs), is designed to help the West London economy re-bound which will benefit the UK as a whole.
Its publication comes as the latest unemployment figures for the sub-region show that West London has seen 127,000 new Universal Credit benefit starts in the second quarter of 2020 compared to 18,000 in the first quarter of 2020. Between March and June there was a 207% increase in people claiming out of work benefits in West London.
With a focus on inclusive, sustainable regeneration and building back better, the Capital West London ‘Build and Recover’ Summit discussed the shared priorities contained in the economic recovery plan: helping aviation communities, the future of town centres, housing and infrastructure, growth sectors as well as skills and employment.
The West London Alliance is calling for Government backing and support for its ‘Build and Recover’ Strategy. It also met with West London MPs today (29 Sep) to make the case for investment to protect and create tens of thousands of jobs by diversifying through investment in infrastructure and skills and by sharing growth opportunities.
The plan aims to create an Aviation Communities Fund, to establish an ‘innovation district’ across the sub-region, making it a leader in technology and research and to retrofit tens of thousands of homes in the region to make them more energy efficient, generating thousands of jobs and making West London a leader in elements of the green economy.
The ‘Build and Recover’ Strategy also aims to turn empty shops in High Streets into business innovation hubs to help define and strengthen town centers and to expand apprenticeship opportunities in a bid to guarantee every young person a job.
During his keynote speech at the Summit, Chairman of the WLA’s Economic Prosperity Board and Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, Cllr Stephen Cowan, said: “London has pulled the UK out of every single past recession. Kick-starting the London economy is the way to kick-start the national economy and West London, located minutes from the City, with Heathrow to the West and multiple transport links, has the capabilities to bounce back even stronger than before.
“The COVID-19 crisis brings enormous challenges, but with the right innovation and creativity it also brings huge opportunities to rebuild stronger, more sustainable communities.
“With organisations like Imperial College generating the ideas that will become the companies of tomorrow, and the digital, media and biotech start-ups that exemplify the White City innovation hub, West London will be at the heart of the national recovery.”
Cllr Cowan was joined at the Summit by David Francis, Director of the West London Alliance and Cath Shaw, Programme Director West London Economic Recovery who will be discussing further opportunities for economic recovery and growth at the London policy conference on 1 October.