Cabinet takes action to support local economy

Actions undertaken and proposed to support the local economy in Bath and North East Somerset are to be discussed at a meeting of the Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday the 6th of May.

The Conservative Cabinet on Bath and North East Somerset Council is to consider its response to the economic downturn. The Cabinet has made mitigating the effects of the recession on the local area and helping the local economy during these tough times a top priority.

As part of this work, the Cabinet will next week discuss further measures to respond to the recession, including:

• Helping local businesses cope with the recession by working with partners such as GWE Business West, local colleges and Job Centre Plus to deliver financial advice, and encouraging struggling businesses to make ‘early contact’ with these support organisations.
• Publicising available benefits to struggling families through Council Connect the Council’s Revenues and Benefits department, as well as running local advice surgeries.
• Promoting the ‘Warm Front’ initiative to encourage take-up of available support for energy saving initiatives in homes.
• Working with the area’s Registered Social Landlords as well as private landlords to help avoid evictions where these could result in homelessness and bring forward vacant properties for affordable housing.
• Working with the Citizens Advice Bureaux and other advice agencies to ensure they have the capacity to provide advice to local people.
• Continuing to promote Small Business Rate Relief, which already has a 70% take up in B&NES compared to 40% nationally.

Councillor Malcolm Hanney, Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Resources, commented:

“It is absolutely essential that we support our local economy through the economic downturn and take action to mitigate the effects of the recession on our area.

“This year’s budget contained many measures to support the local economy during these tough times, including extra support for public events that generate footfall, and a fund to promote the local economy.

“Working through Future Bath Plus, the local private-public partnership, the Council’s financial commitment has been supported and leveraged by significant funding from private sector landlords and businesses that share a common objective with the Council in mitigating the effects of the recession.

“The measures the Cabinet will be discussing next week set out a range of actions that respond to the economic downturn and build on the measures we have already put in place.”

As part of this year’s Conservative budget proposals, adopted at a Full Council meeting in February, there contained several measures to support the local economy, including:

• £50,000 to support promotion of the local economy
• £150,000 to enable a short term freeze on car park charges and to enable a review so that any increases would be targeted to minimise adverse effects
• £15,000 to extend youth outreach work
• £20,000 to support public events to promote the area and generate footfall
• A recession reserve of £465,000 to cover income shortfalls during the recession and for other recession mitigation initiatives with partners and otherwise