A £6million economic recovery programme for Devon on the agenda

Cllr John Hart, leader of Devon County Council

Cllr John Hart, leader of Devon County Council - Credit: Archant

An urgent £6million economic recovery programme for Devon is being discussed by county councillors.

The programme would form part of Devon County Council’s response to the effects during the coronavirus pandemic.

It would provide help and support in four key areas – small and medium enterprises, employment and skills, the green recovery and the hardest hit towns and communities.

Devon’s ruling Cabinet will be told on Wednesday (October 14) that the county’s economy has shrunk by eight per cent, unemployment has risen to more than six per cent and claims for universal credit have surged.

The crisis has had a significant impact in tourism and hospitality, retail, construction and manufacturing with high levels of youth unemployment and rising levels amongst the over 50’s.

But other sectors, such as digital, health and care and clean growth, are showing signs of healthy recovery and new growth since the downturn.

Councillors will be asked to set aside £6million over the next three years as part of their budget-setting process. This is in addition to other bids for Government support.

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Cllr John Hart, DCC leader, said: “Clearly we are still in a battle with coronavirus as the rising number of cases in Exeter has shown this week.

“Rates across the rest of Devon remain low and we must all pull together to keep it that way and to keep people healthy and safe.

“But we also have to take urgent steps to address the economic health of our county, our communities and our people and to plan for the future.”

Cllr Rufus Gilbert, Devon’s cabinet member for economy and skills, said: “This financial investment will support the economic recovery of our hardest hit places, enterprises and individuals.

“Together we can grasp opportunities to build back better, to build a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable economy.”

Mr Gilbert said the exact measures would depend on how the pandemic developed but would include supporting businesses to become more resilient.

The measures would also improve their digital skills - targeting key sectors such as tourism, retail and health and care and help hospitality businesses to improve the skills of their workforce.

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