What strategies are being put in place to secure Bristol’s future and economic recovery?
As well as the human tragedy so many of us have been touched by, the past 12 months have seen devastating financial impact sweep across the UK, with reports showing that lockdowns and the ‘downbeat’ end to 2020 have set the UK on course for a double-dip recession. Many sectors, most notably in the hospitality and events sectors are struggling to survive with thousands now without work.
In Bristol, discussions are turning to economic recovery in a move to secure the city's future. Back in October, Marvin Rees, Bristol Mayor announced the city had 8,000 fewer jobs available when compared to March 2020, with unemployment highest among 16-25-year-olds. In the same address, Mayor Rees announced that he would be supporting existing jobs, building skills and creating employment opportunities for the city.
Bristol One City brings together a huge range of Bristol’s public, private, voluntary and third sector partners with one aim: to make a fair, healthy and sustainable city. The organisation recently released its Economic Recovery and Renewal Strategy, which outlined the challenges that had surfaced since Covid-19. Over 300 partners came together focusing on three pillars: people and labour markets, business and investment and Bristol’s places.
So, what strategies are being put in place to secure Bristol’s future and economic recovery?
A sustainable recovery
Over the next two years, Bristol City Council will allocate £10m to support the impact of Covid-19. The main priorities are to reduce poverty, increase the city’s resilience and financial sustainability and enhance the economic and social wellbeing of every community.
The report states: “The economic crisis we have experienced in 2020 is not over yet, and we must acknowledge the damage that has been caused and prepare for the loss that is still to come. But we hope that this also contains an opportunity for Bristol to build back better together.”
The strategy shows the percentage of South West workforces that had been furloughed by industry (on 31st July). Accommodation and food services were the highest with 78% with arts, entertainment and recreation just behind on 72%.
Green recovery is a focus, ensuring more jobs, homes and infrastructure is implemented for sustainable growth. As part of this move, the city has chosen seven key areas for economic reinvigoration including Avonmouth, the City Centre, the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, and Hengrove/ South Bristol.
Avonmouth Severnside will see significant employment growth in logistics and the energy and waste sectors over the past ten years. Plans are in place for:
- Improved transport links - Connecting road, rail and cycle networks.
- Infrastructure improvements to support the delivery of Efficient, Smart and Sustainable Industrial Areas (ESSIA) for SMEs - Helping the implementation of zero carbon, zero waste and clean air.
- Attracting more engineers - Providing the area with more sustainable technology.
Meanwhile, South Bristol has the highest concentration of socio-economic deprivation in the city. The further mixed-use development of Hengrove Park is seen as key for the future economic recovery for South Bristol, providing new high-quality housing opportunities for the local area.
Have Bristol’s priorities changed?
Covid-19 has seen many industries accelerate change that was already progressing before the pandemic and this is true for Bristol’s recovery.
In the recent One Plan report, James Durie, Chief Executive of Bristol Chamber of Commerce at Business West, says: “This strategy does not aim to simply steer our economy back to where it was at the start of the year, and recreate all the challenges that existed then. Instead, it aims to build a renewed economy.”
If we look at January 2019’s One City Plan document, there are many similarities to the recent economic plan. The original document focuses on inclusive development, improved pedestrianisation, cycle routes and investment in carbon-neutral practices.
Both plans have a shared message that no organisation can face the current challenges alone, bringing together partnerships and collaboration to secure the city’s sustainable and financial recovery.
At Bristol Credit Union (BCU), we’re dedicated to maintaining the city’s attractiveness for all, helping to drive inclusive future opportunities for young people of all backgrounds.
BCU is committed to the One City Plan as we share the values for ending poverty, creating a sustainable, fair and equal city that works for all.
Helping to create a fairer city
At BCU, we’re always looking at fresh ways to support the city and our broader area, providing an inclusive recovery for our local communities to build back better. We’ve recently recruited in-house, employing three new Member Support Team Members to assist members with loan repayments.
We’ve also announced a merger with Wyvern Savings and Loans in Dorset, making Bristol Credit Union a significant force in the South West of England, offering ethical savings and affordable loans to more people than ever before.
We can now offer our services to residents and businesses across Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Dorset and most of Somerset as well as Bristol and Bath and we’re working hard on our plans to expand our impact working with key stakeholders like local authorities and housing providers throughout the new area.
Our Employer Partnership Scheme now has around 20 local businesses, providing their employees with access to ethical borrowing and savings. Current companies on the scheme include Airbus, Bristol City Council, CURO Housing Group, Sustrans and plenty more.
Our services help to recirculate money back into the local economy, providing social and environmental justice whilst improving the financial situation for all.