Creative, digital and green businesses will help Greater Brighton economy bounce back from coronavirus hit

Posted On 20 Oct 2020 at 10:59 am

Growth in digital and creative industries and support for a greener economy will help the Greater Brighton city region bounce back from the devastating effects of the covid-19 pandemic, according to a leading local politician.

Councillor Daniel Humphreys, who chairs the Greater Brighton Economic Board, said that he was confident that the combined resources and talents of those across the area could enable the local economy to thrive in the difficult times ahead.

He said: “I don’t hide from the fact that Greater Brighton, in common with the rest of the UK, has suffered a terrible economic blow in 2020 and we have not seen the worst of it yet.

“But the plan of action we are putting together, with the existing strengths of the region, make me very confident that we can recover from this.”

Councillor Humphreys, who is also the leader of Worthing Borough Council, has just been elected chairman of the board for a second year.

The board co-ordinates the economic activities of seven councils, including Brighton and Hove City Council, as well two universities, the further education sector and business partners.

He said that a report commissioned by the Greater Brighton Economic Board estimated that the economy would shrink by 11 per cent this year.

Fears remained, the report said, about rising unemployment among the young, especially in shopping, hospitality and tourism, as furloughing – the government’s job retention scheme – was wound down this month.

Against this backdrop, Councillor Humphreys flagged up the Greater Brighton coronavirus recovery plan which was being shared with the board this morning (Tuesday 20 October).

Among the programmes proposed to lead the bounce back are

  • Supporting creative industries with small business grants and digital infrastructure to allow them to grow
  • Supporting digital industries, which are worth more than £1 billion a year to the region’s economy, by backing a skills programme and ensuring digital infrastructure is able to support growth
  • Supporting clean growth as a new driver of the economy with Greater Brighton’s energy and water conservation plans creating a multimillion-pound “green” industry

The report also outlined plans to provide more flexible workspaces for new businesses, to support new high-powered quantum computing networks to create new businesses and jobs and to lobby the government for support for tourism.

Measures to help young people gain qualifications and find work were also included in the report.

Ideas include enabling the region to become a hydrogen hub to support clean transport as well as retrofitting existing housing to improve energy efficiency.

And the recovery plan backs a new drive to increase the level of inward investment in Greater Brighton from around the world. It currently stands at a relatively low level.

Councillor Humphreys said: “We are lucky in some ways in that Greater Brighton already has leading businesses in areas such as digital, research and tourism and our green industries are continuing to grow so that we have something to build on.

“Greater Brighton’s job in the next year is to use our combined strengths and also our lobbying power to help put our region back on its feet.

“This will also need a much greater emphasis on attracting inward investment here using those messages that all of us here already recognise, namely that this is a fantastic place in which to invest, work and live.”

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