Incoming mayor urged to champion sustainable and inclusive recovery

The incoming West Yorkshire mayor must show vision and ambition to “turbocharge the region’s Covid recovery” and lay the foundations for sustainable, long-term prosperity, according to the CBI.

The business group has today launched its West Yorkshire Revival Plan, a blueprint for the region’s future which urges the winner of May 6’s ballot to champion the area’s unique strengths to build back better.

It says overcoming skills shortages and pockets of low productivity are priorities.

The productivity gap between West Yorkshire and the rest of the country currently stands at 13% and the CBI says closing this gap could add £7.9bn to the region’s economy.

It argues attracting fresh inward investment and driving improvement in physical infrastructure and digital connectivity could also be transformational in the wake of the pandemic.

Beckie Hart, CBI Yorkshire and the Humber director, said: “The newly-elected metro mayor will be entering office at an extremely challenging time. 

“Not only will they have to address existing pockets of deprivation, and long-standing low productivity, but also the impacts of Covid-19. If done right, however, the size of the prize is significant. 

“To turn West Yorkshire into a healthy, productive, and thriving region, the metro mayor must develop and champion a strong economic vision.

“It should consider how to turbo-charge recovery planning and enable businesses to succeed, focusing on key sector strengths that leverages public investment to support the private sector.

“This should recognise that a strong economy that delivers growth and good jobs can raise living standards and wages for all in the region. 

“Business is ready to step up and support in this endeavour, working closely with the metro mayor to develop this economic vision, and to embed it across the region.” 

The CBI’s manifesto has identified three key principles and a series of recommendations which outline how businesses and the newly-elected mayor can work in tandem to drive recovery.

Key principles are: champion regional dynamism and global competitiveness to raise living standards; transform digital and physical infrastructure on the race to net zero; and stimulate job creation and secure an inclusive future workforce.

And the recommendations include: kickstart R&D spending to drive an agenda of innovation, supported by increased collaboration between business and academia; drive meaningful improvement and green investment in jobs, housing, transport and digitisation across the region; and deliver projects that result in the creation of good jobs at pace, enabling business to attract and retain good talent.

The CBI says these actions can address inequalities and equip West Yorkshire with the infrastructure, talent and investment needed to thrive through the post-pandemic recovery and beyond.

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