West Lothian Council’s recovery & Growth Plan finalised

A West Lothian Economic Recovery & Growth Plan has been finalised that aims to support training, create and protect local jobs.

Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 6:55 am
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The plan has been created by the Jobs Task Force Partnership which is made up of representatives from West Lothian College, Skills Development Scotland, Visit West Lothian, Scottish Enterprise, West Lothian Council and the Federation of Small Business.

The plan includes practical measures to help the local economy including plans to help create 500 new jobs and protect a further 1,750 that are assessed as being at risk.

The plan also sets out how improved tracking of economic forecasts and access to reliable data will help ensure West Lothian businesses are more flexible and able to predict national trends.

One key outcome of the plan is to increase the level of local procurement by the council to 40 per cent each year and help local businesses. The plan also includes measures to provide support for school leavers, and provide more training and up-skilling, generally, within growth sectors.

The Partnership is chaired by Executive councillor for development and transport, Cathy Muldoon who is confident that the plan will provide a focal point in the months and years ahead.

At a meeting of the council’s Development and Transport Policy, Development and Scrutiny Panel (PDSP) last week, she said: “It is very important to be upfront and honest about the challenges that we all face. The public health Covid crisis isn’t over but the economic issues caused by it have already begun.

“The true extent of the economic challenges that West Lothian and all other areas of the country face are not fully known, but we know that challenges will continue in the short and medium term.

“Our plan aims to address those challenges head on and create clear objectives that we believe will help create new jobs and protect as many jobs as we can in the local area.

“There are a number of practical measures that the council can take and plans are already being put in place to do all that we can to help local businesses.”

Members of the council’s Economic Development team will lead on the plan and Craig McCorriston, the council’s Head of Planning, Economic Development & Regeneration explained to members of the PDSP that consultation with local businesses had been carried out and that the plan will be a working document as new actions emerge locally and nationally. The plan will also be reviewed in line with UK and Scottish Government future recovery plans.

A recent report by KPMG on the UK Economic Outlook forecasts West Lothian to be the least affected local authority area in Scotland.

Cllr Muldoon added: “West Lothian is in a relatively good place in terms of being prepared and able to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

“It is important that this isn’t a plan that is produced and then sits still. The economy will not stand still and neither will the challenges and opportunities that come our way. The Partnership will remain flexible and open to the factors around us that are out with our control but our focus will remain the same; to protect and create jobs for local people.”

The plan can be viewed online at: www.westlothian.gov.uk/economic-recovery-and-growth.