The West London Alliance has published a bold and ambitious plan to support economic recovery in West London, protecting and generating tens of thousands of jobs.
It comes as a report, commissioned by the WLA from Oxford Economics which is a leader in economic
forecasting, estimates that GVA across the region has fallen by 9% because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A big contributor to that is the aviation industry. Heathrow Airport has suffered a slowdown since the beginning of the pandemic, and some tens of thousands of jobs are under threat because of the fall in passenger numbers.
The West London economy, with a pre-COVID-19 GVA of £74bn, was bigger than Birmingham, Leeds and
Glasgow combined. There has been a significant increase in those claiming benefits, so now the WLA is seeking Government backing and investment in its ‘Build and Recover’ plan.
This would see:
• The creation of an Aviation Communities Fund by investing new and existing funding to support
communities which have been severely damaged by the decline in aviation.
• The establishment of an ‘innovation district’ across the sub-region, making it a leader in technology and
research, building on the £1.3bn Imperial College Innovation campus at White City.
• Retrofitting of tens of thousands of homes in the region to make them more energy efficient, generating
thousands of jobs and making West London a leader in elements of the green economy.
• Empty shops in High Streets turned into business innovation hubs to help define and strengthen town
• A huge expansion of apprenticeship opportunities in a bid to guarantee every young person a job.
• Plans for the West London Orbital train line accelerated. The line would run from Hounslow and Kew
Bridge towards Hendon and West Hampstead in the north, unlocking 10,000 jobs and 22,000 homes.
• Reskilling opportunities for 41,000 expected to lose their jobs in 2020 through a single employment front
door delivered by the seven councils in partnership with DWP, further and higher education colleges.
The West London Alliance, which includes the boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham,
Harrow, Hillingdon and Hounslow, is calling on Government to back the proposals by investing in specific
programmes, while also allowing councils to use existing funding in different ways. They also want more
powers in specific areas – for example by giving councils greater flexibility to turn empty shops into different
Chairman of the WLA’s Economic Prosperity Board and Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, Cllr
Stephen Cowan, said: “Kick-starting the London economy is the way to kick-start the national economy. West
London has been hit hard by Covid-19 but has the greatest opportunity to rebound. This is a bold and
ambitious plan to protect and create tens of thousands of jobs, to skill up our young people, to drive
innovation, embed a green recovery and help regenerate the national economy”.
A newly established Economic Recovery Task Force, comprising senior representatives from private, public
and voluntary sector organisations, will deliver the strategy which focuses on seven key themes: Growth
sectors; Aviation communities; Skills and employment; Entrepreneurs and micro businesses; A Green
recovery; Town centres and Housing and infrastructure.
Further opportunities for recovery and growth are set to be discussed at the virtual Capital West London
Build & Recover Summit on 29 September 2020.