Liverpool city region’s economy is taking a devastating hit from the coronavirus crisis and now Steve Rotheram has laid out his plan for its recovery. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has set out a four-point plan to revive the city’s region’s COVID-shattered economy.
Research by the Combined Authority has show that 95% of firms in Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, Halton and St Helens have been impacted by coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown.
Among the hardest-hit sectors has been the hospitality and retail sectors which make a huge contribution to the Liverpool city region’s £5bn visitor economy. A total shutdown of bars, restaurants and hotels has had a devastating effect.
Earlier in May, LBN revealed that claims for universal credit had soared across the Liverpool city region by more than 37% between March and April, as firms had been forced to lay off staff.
Now, a new report, due to be considered by the Combined Authority next week, sets out a mixed picture for the city region. Before the crisis began, the Liverpool City Region had the fastest economic growth in England at 3.5% a year and well above average productivity growth.
Over the last 10 years, its business base has also grown faster than national rates, with real strengths in retail, culture and visitor economy, in health and infectious disease control, advanced manufacturing and high-performance computing.
Despite this progress, the city region still faces the legacy of long-standing and deep-rooted socio-economic challenges and inequalities, including in health, skills and employment levels, which has led to a greater impact from COVID-19 locally than elsewhere.
Mr Rotheram, said: “My top priority throughout this crisis has been protecting people’s health and safety, as well as their jobs and livelihoods.
“I have been working closely with our Local Authority leaders, the Local Enterprise Partnership, businesses, Trade Unions, the community and voluntary sector and national government, to assess the economic impact of the coronavirus; understand the needs of our communities and develop region-wide plans for economic recovery.
“Before this crisis our region was making strong economic progress. As well as being the most productive region in the North, we led the country in GVA growth. As we rebuild, those strengths will be even more important.”
Mr Rotheram has laid out his four-point plan which he hopes will provide a roadmap for recovery:
- Seizing the opportunity to Build Back Better, to reshape our economy and society in a way that is greener, fairer and more inclusive.
- An enhanced business ecosystem where commercial and social businesses are supported to adapt, innovate, grow and thrive in the post COVID-19 world.
- A people-focused recovery that defends our progress over the last decade with skills and employment at its centre, improving health, wealth and wellbeing for everyone, driving inclusive economic growth.
- A focus on investing in places and economic infrastructure that protects our culture and visitor economy, reimagines our towns, and attracts public and private sector investment in to our city region’s infrastructure.
He added: “The road ahead will be a tough one, but I believe that our resilience and creativity gives us the ability to come back stronger than before. There can be no return to business as usual – and nor should there be.
“We have a unique opportunity to hit reset and Build Back Better. That means a fairer, more inclusive economy and society that is kinder to the environment and to each other. But the reality is that given the scale of the challenge we face, we will need funding and support from central government.
“We must be ambitious about our economic recovery and I want the government to recognise the unarguable case for investment in our region. That’s why today, we are setting out the preliminary evidence and the first steps in a four-pronged approach to our economic recovery.
“We will be announcing further details through the recently established Economic Recovery Panel and submitting comprehensive plans to Government over the coming weeks.”