Covid-19: £11.2m plan for Norfolk and Suffolk economies

North Sea wind power Image copyright Alan O'Neill
Image caption Clean energy development is one of the sectors to lead Norfolk and Suffolk back to growth

An £11.2m plan aiming to stop lockdown job losses reaching 200,000 in Norfolk and Suffolk has been revealed by a local enterprise partnership (LEP).

Support for agrifood, clean energy and IT sectors aims to minimise the expected 35.9% plunge in employment, New Anglia LEP said.

Local authorities have committed £7.7m and New Anglia £3.5m to fund recovery.

But critics claim the plan is nothing new and the care and small business sectors hardly get a mention.

Research by New Anglia showed that in a worst-case scenario, unemployment in Norfolk and Suffolk could hit 200,000 before the end of the year.

The industries identified for support are believed to be those best placed to lead a recovery, the LEP document said.

Image caption Agrifood is important for many jobs in both Norfolk and Suffolk

LEP chairman Doug Field said: "Getting the economy back on its feet will not be achieved by one partner alone or by one strand of investment or actions."

New Anglia LEP's outline of the plan:

  • Create a redundancy support programme with the Department for Work and Pensions and Jobcentre Plus
  • Develop further employment and training opportunities with existing networks
  • Build on existing initiatives that provide employers and employees with mental health and wellbeing support
  • Accelerate Youth Pledge to help young people into education, training and employment.
  • Deliver a pilot to test innovative virtual solutions for work experience
  • Provide co-ordinated support that schools and colleges can draw on
  • Build on investments in digital skills infrastructure with higher and further education providers
  • Reshape existing apprenticeship projects to help those made redundant
  • Work with universities to support students that are due to graduate

Source: New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership

Steve Morphew, Labour chairman of the scrutiny committee on Norfolk County Council, said: "Basically it's the 'same old, same old', but with a different Covid label. Given the opportunities that arose out of all this badness it is letting the heroes and victims down.

"The small businesses that have been the cornerstone of resilience for a lot communities don't even get a mention.

"The care sector, long missing from economic strategies as an economic driver, gets a mention, but not on the basis of what the current reality is."

Suffolk County Council's Conservative leader Matthew Hicks said: "I am determined this pandemic will not hold Suffolk back from re-imagining and achieving our shared future prosperity based on clean, inclusive economic growth."

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