Barnsley COVID Economic Renewal Action Plan set to be approved

A £2m economic recovery programme to help Barnsley’s communities and businesses bounce back from COVID-19 and adapt to the changes it will leave is being recommended for approval by Barnsley Council’s Cabinet.

The programme is designed to help both protect existing jobs and bring new jobs to the borough by supporting economic recovery in the short and medium-term. This will be achieved through a package of immediate interventions to help stabilise the local economy and return it to growth.

The council, working with a number of key partners, has also developed its overarching Barnsley Inclusive Economic Renewal Plan which will also be presented to Cabinet for their support on Wednesday 7 April. This sets out the areas of challenge, opportunities and the key recovery actions and outcomes that are required within the borough over the next 18 months.

It will help people, employers and places recover, and put us on course to transform the borough, making our economy and society stronger, greener and fairer. It has been put together in close partnership with local businesses, skills and education providers, Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce and Barnsley CVS.

Joada Allen-Booth, Chair, Barnsley Inclusive Economy Board, said: “Undoubtedly times have been tough for businesses in Barnsley, but the effort and collective support within our wider business community has been brilliant. We see this action plan for renewal as a statement of how much we’re already doing to get our local economy back on its feet. And it shows how the partnership can help build resilience and greater diversity in Barnsley’s businesses, through priority support as we move on from COVID-19.”    

To kick start recovery in the immediate term, a £2m package of local economic recovery interventions, if approved by Cabinet, will help support economic recovery to build back a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable economy.

The support offered to businesses so far has focussed on immediate challenges like access to finance and cash flow. The Economic Recovery Programme aims to provide local communities and businesses with the tools and specialist knowledge to aid their recovery.

For example, many smaller local businesses and market traders had little or no online presence prior to the pandemic.

The programme will provide them with the vital building blocks to incorporate an online offering to their current business model, such as access to an IT facility, photography and videography area to allow businesses to photograph and prepare products for selling or promoting online. Opening opportunities for online revenue will help bolster their physical presence on the high street.

The programme also includes work to help develop local supply chains to encourage a circular economy where local businesses support each other. This keeps more money within the local economy and encourages indigenous growth.

The retail, leisure and hospitality sectors will be particularly targeted by the programme having been hit hard by the pandemic. Businesses in this sector will be given the help and support to introduce or grow their online offering, and the programme includes provision of a click and collect hub. This will include a bank of automated lockers accessible to all town centre businesses to help fulfil online orders without the need of delivery costs. They will offer an easy, safe and convenient way to collect and drop off goods effectively extending the usual trading hours of most businesses.

Cllr Tim Cheetham, Cabinet Spokesperson for Regeneration and Culture, said: “We all know the pandemic has had an immense impact on our local economy as a whole and on individual businesses.  With this package of support measures, we’ll give businesses the support and tools they need not just to survive, and to retain jobs, but to get back to the growth and to create jobs.

“This programme is absolutely focussed on renewal and building back stronger once the pandemic is behind us, yet this programme would be right for Barnsley even if the pandemic had not happened.”

Cabinet will vote on the proposal at their meeting on Wednesday 7 April. Read the full cabinet report entitled Barnsley COVID Economic Renewal Action Plan.  

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