Some £300m to be invested across county in bid to safeguard and create thousands of jobs - The Leamington Observer

Some £300m to be invested across county in bid to safeguard and create thousands of jobs

AN ECONOMIC recovery plan is set to see £300million invested across Warwickshire in a bid to create and safeguard thousands of jobs.

Warwickshire County Council plans to create a £140m fund to stimulate the county’s economy, create jobs, support local businesses and bring investment into the county.

A further £160m will be invested in new housing, regeneration and the creation of business premises.

It is part of the council’s Covid-19 Recovery Plan and is expected to create more than 3,000 jobs and safeguard thousands more.

It will drive recovery and regeneration while at the same time supporting the council’s financial resilience.

The Warwickshire Recovery Investment Fund (WRIF) aims to allocate £140m over the next five years, offering loans and other financial investments to existing and new Warwickshire businesses to help their long-term recovery and growth, create and safeguard jobs, and attract new inward investment into the county, further stimulating the local economy.

The council’s cabinet is due to make a decision on the final details shortly and is expecting the fund will be open to the first applications later this year and will start engaging with potential businesses over the summer.

County council leader Izzi Seccombe said: “We are absolutely committed to working with our partners and with local businesses to ensure Warwickshire bounces back better with a vibrant and sustainable economy that is fit for the future in the world after the pandemic.

“We know that this is an enormous commitment but we are convinced that we need an ambitious and bold strategy to create a healthy job market with opportunities for everyone to find work. A strong economy will lay the foundations for so much of our ambition for the people of Warwickshire and helps us fund care for those most in need.”

The authority expects unemployment could rise from 7,000 at the start of 2020 to over 30,000 by the time the effects of the third national lockdown are fully felt.

The economic output of the county, it’s GVA, is also predicted to fall sharply as a result of the second wave and further period of lockdown.

But the council says its investment is designed to help address this, stop the downward trend and drive growth and recovery of the county’s previously strong economy. It is anticipated the WRIF will also unlock and bring in around £100m of additional private sector investment and, through improved growth and productivity, create an increase in the county’s GVA of up to four times its initial investment.

The WRIF will initially be funded by the County Council’s short-term cash surpluses and borrowing, and will be recovered over time through the repayment of loans and other financial products.

The Warwickshire Property and Development Company (WPDC) will be launched later this year. The company will deliver new affordable and market priced homes and a range of commercial and mixed-use properties using the council’s existing land and property assets to drive growth and regeneration. These are supported by plans for renewable energy opportunities across the county.

Council deputy leader and finance spokesman Peter Butlin said: “Warwickshire has always managed its finances prudently and that is how we are in a position to make such a strong investment in the county’s recovery.

“The fund will be managed with similar prudence. Much of it will consist of loans that will be repaid, as we both invest in our businesses to create jobs for our residents and generate a modest financial return. As well as that, supporting businesses to sustain themselves and to grow, keeping more people in employment across all ages, and safeguarding the council’s tax base. As well as being the right thing to do to deliver our policy objectives for our residents, it is also financially responsible.”

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