How County Hall is helping our economy bounce back in the wake of the pandemic
- Credit: Archant
What steps are being taken to restart the county's economy and help people recover from the pandemic?
Essex County Council has pledged dedicated measures to boost businesses, help improve people's skills, and create new employment opportunities in growth sectors including health and social care, construction and the green economy.
It will also create 500 apprenticeships and 500 new Kickstart Essex placements to benefit the county's young people.
In the face of the most testing circumstances the council has ever faced, the 2021/22 budget and 12-month organisation plan was approved by a meeting of Full Council.
Each year County Hall spends around £900 million of its budget on businesses and last October it announced a £100m economic growth investment strategy and £5m economic recovery fund for 2021/22.
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Unemployment is at a 30-year high in Essex, with young people under 25 feeling the greatest impact, and new measures will help people develop the skills they need to thrive post Covid-19.
The Kickstart Essex scheme enables small and medium sized enterprises to access Government funding to pay a young person’s salary for six months, with 124 local businesses registered so far.
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The Essex Accelerator programme will continue to support those at risk of unemployment, or recently unemployed, to set up their own businesses. The pilot eight-week intensive online course gave 25 people advice on starting out and enabled six new business start-ups, creating 12 new jobs. Four more courses will run in 2021.
Last week the council allocated an additional £7.2 million for Covid-19 business recovery grants, in addition to the £2.2 million for business adaptation grants announced in October. his includes helping self-employed people and small and medium-sized businesses who do not have rateable premises and have been excluded from accessing other Covid-19 financial support schemes.
An additional £1m of Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans has also been made available and an additional £2 million of investment to ensure a successful reopening of the Essex economy.
Cabinet member for economic development, Cllr Tony Ball, said: “We are dedicated to building back the Essex economy as our highest priority in the coming year and in a way that everyone benefits. We’ll get people back into work, give businesses the support they need to survive and grow, and enable people to grow their skills so they can thrive as Essex recovers. We will do all we can to get Essex back in business.”