The economic recovery of the Falkirk area is to be kick-started with the issuing of a four-stage plan outlining how the area can move forward post COVID-19. The plan will be led by Falkirk Council and the Falkirk Economic Partnership (FEP) who are already working to prepare for the area’s economic recovery post COVID-19.
The plan marks the start of getting the area back on track and asserts the national importance of its economy, in particular the industrial complex at Grangemouth. It seeks support from UK and Scottish Governments to accelerate delivery of the £235m bid for ‘Investment Zone’ funding. Ministers from both tiers of Government will attend the Economic Partnership this week to hear from business how they hope the area can be assisted to move forward.
The plan follows the national approach to this activity and is set out over four distinct phases:
- Response - Immediate provision of information and support to businesses
- Reset - Support, planning and preparation for restart
- Restart - Support and guidance for safe re-opening
- Recover - Guidance and support for operating in a new post COVID-19 environment
A consultation with businesses and partner organisations will take place to ensure there are actions at all levels in the recovery plan and that it helps to prepare the area’s economy for the ‘new normal’, promoting a greener, more inclusive economy.
The timescales for delivery will be determined by the ongoing relaxation of rules imposed at the lockdown stage of the COVID-19 outbreak however Council Leader Cecil Meiklejohn who chairs the FEP said: “While our immediate focus has been on the response to COVID-19 and the need to help business cope with its impact we want to move to recovery as soon as possible.
“We aim to bring together as many views as possible so that the plan can have the broadest support. This plan will help get our area back on track, protecting as many jobs as possible with the ultimate ambition of seeing business recovery, job growth and a cleaner, more inclusive economy in the longer term.
“It won’t be easy but there is a solid determination to get this work done and start seeing success as soon as possible. The key to a rapid success here is partnership working and everyone getting behind the plan.
“We know that many businesses are finding it so very difficult right now but our with our commitment we are aiming to see significant results.”
Work on recovery will take place through working with small to medium sized enterprises as well as strategic level work to deliver major projects such as the Falkirk Investment Zone and the Falkirk Tax Incremental Finance (TIF) initiative.
Work will take place in sectors of the economy that are particularly important to the local area such as tourism, manufacturing and chemicals; housing and construction; food and drink; retail and town centres.
Since the start of COVID-19, the area has seen an increase in Universal Credit claimants rise to more than 11,000 with a rise of 66.6% in unemployment claimants between March and April 2020.