A report by the Local Government Association (LGA) has set out the challenges facing urban areas as they look to recover from the economic impact of the pandemic.
Exclusive analysis carried out on behalf of the LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, has revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic could result in half a million job losses in urban centres, largely in the manufacturing, finance, hospitality and retail sectors.
The report, produced by Cambridge Econometrics and commissioned by the LGA, also found that young people aged between 16 and 24 were two and a half times more likely than other age groups to be working in a sector that was shut down during the pandemic.
To address these issues, the report recommends creating a new 10-year Sustainable Urban Futures Fund worth up to £7 billion to support local leaders to invest in infrastructure improvements, new housing projects, local town centres and other measures to support economic growth. This could incorporate existing government funds, such as the Towns Fund.
Mayor Marvin Rees, Chair of the LGA’s City Regions Board said:
“Councils are at the forefront of efforts to lead the recovery from the pandemic, which includes delivering economic growth that is sustainable and benefits all. We want to work closely with the Government to help deliver on its levelling up commitment and deliver local investment across all parts of the country. The need for the Government to work with urban leaders cannot be ignored, as this report sets out the stark consequences urban economies face during this recovery phase.
“Although recent funding announcements to invest in local areas by the Government have been important, these funds are sometimes fragmented and complex. A Sustainable Urban Futures Fund could provide long-term, large-scale funding for integrated urban recovery programmes that respond to the challenges of the pandemic and the opportunities of the future.
“Councils want to work with the Government as important partners in their ambition to build back better and level up the country. With the right tools, councils can help rebuild their communities and address the challenges that have been brought by the pandemic.”