Whilst west Cheshire has an economy valued at over £10.5 billion a year, not everyone is benefitting from this. Some areas have higher levels of deprivation and poverty, and lower life expectancy.
Cheshire West and Chester Council is working with residents and partners to create a new Inclusive Economy strategy, to ensure that all residents, businesses, and places can thrive.
Councillor Richard Beacham, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Growth, Economy & Regeneration said: “We want to hear your views on the economy in west Cheshire, and what should be done to make it greener, fairer and stronger for everyone.
“We want to create an economy that enables all of our residents, businesses and places to thrive. You might have concerns about the availability of good jobs or training, you might have thoughts on the role of businesses and large employers and how they can play a role in combating climate change or providing more opportunities for local people. You might have started working from home and be facing various challenges as a result, you might have ideas for regeneration projects or how to make our communities happier and healthier.
“We want to hear from everyone who has an interest in how our local economy works and how it can work for all of us in the future. So please do get involved, we’re really looking forward to hearing from you.”
To take part visit: www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/inclusive
There is an online survey, with an opportunity to respond to six planned action areas:
• Employment & Skills
• Building Better Places & Community Regeneration
• Protecting the Environment & Green Spaces
• Housing & Transport
• Business Best Practice and Support
• Anchor Institutions
The Council is working with key partners and to identify opportunities to improve existing services and new actions to take forward.
The engagement will continue with a conference at the Civic Hall in Ellesmere Port for stakeholders to share their thoughts on Cheshire West’s economy and to discuss opportunities to make it more inclusive.
This is a long-term vision for the borough. The conversation around an inclusive economy will not end with the closing of this engagement, there will be more opportunities to get involved in the future.
Employment & Skills
‘We want everyone in west Cheshire to have access to the education and skills they need to fulfil their potential and to have the opportunity to access high-quality well-paid jobs.’
Unemployment in west Cheshire is lower than the UK average, but around 23 per cent of workers currently earn below the living wage. For certain groups, work pays less on average and is harder to find. There is a gender pay gap between men and women in full time work. Among working age residents with disabilities only 62 per cent are in employment.
By breaking down barriers to employment, all residents should have access to the right skills for the future, and local businesses will be able to recruit the employees they need. An Inclusive Economy will help to close gaps in employment opportunities and skills attainment, ensuring that everyone can play their part in a thriving economy.
Building Better Places & Community Regeneration
‘We will work with communities to ensure our main centres and least affluent neighbourhoods are developed in a way that improves places and links people to opportunities.’
The Covid-19 pandemic has served as a reminder that some areas are more disconnected from the quality of life and access to opportunity than the rest of the borough.
By working with residents, opportunities for regeneration can be identified. By designing services together, stronger communities can be built.
Protecting the Environment & Green Spaces
‘We will respond to the climate emergency by supporting businesses to cut emissions, promote green skills and jobs, and enhancing access to green spaces and locally produced food.’
West Cheshire is the 5th highest greenhouse gas-emitting local authority area in England, producing four million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.
The Council has plans for west Cheshire to be carbon neutral by 2045. Local industry is already working with leading experts and the public sector to deliver change, through projects such as the HyNet low carbon and hydrogen energy project.
West Cheshire is a rural borough with extensive ‘natural capital’ – including land, green spaces, trees and woodlands, wildlife and water. An Inclusive Economy will make the most of this natural capital to support the wellbeing of residents and the health of the environment.
Housing & Transport
‘We will continue to work towards good quality, affordable housing and improved public transport links. We will support health and environmental goals – for example through supporting walking and cycling, and insulating homes to reduce fuel poverty.’
Demand for housing in west Cheshire continues to outweigh supply. An Inclusive Economy will support growth in good quality local housing and seek an increase in affordable housing as part of that.
Residents shouldn’t be held back from education or employment opportunities by a lack of suitable transport. The new strategy should support residents to take low-carbon transport where possible.
Business Best Practice and Support
‘We will continue to support local business to thrive , encouraging residents to shop local and helping businesses with different ownership models get started and grow, all as part of an economy that creates and shares wealth and opportunity within our borough ’
West Cheshire is home to both world leading major businesses, in key sectors such as energy and advanced manufacturing, and a diverse range of small, locally based businesses, including new start-ups and independents.
The Inclusive Economy should be a culture of enterprise and entrepreneurship across all communities. Recognising the benefits of generating locally owned community wealth, an Inclusive Economy can ensure that all support fully covers the needs of social enterprises.
‘We will harness the influence of our major employers to support local people and strengthen local businesses, using their employment and buying power, the way they deliver services and use their assets to support community needs, and the way they take action on the climate emergency.’
An anchor institution is a large organisation or business within the borough that is fixed in place, employs many people, spends substantial amounts of money, owns and manages land and assets, and often delivers crucial activities such as healthcare, education or public services.
These anchors can support the success of smaller local businesses and social enterprises by enabling them to bid for more contract opportunities. This helps to build local wealth and enables enterprises to grow as money recirculates around the local economy rather than leaking out.