West London’s business leaders come together to help drive the area’s economic recovery
The Capital West London Growth Summit on 2nd March 2022 sees the launch of a major collaboration between some of the area’s key business leaders to contribute to West London’s recovery from the economic impact of the pandemic.
West London is an important driver of the UK economy, with the region’s pre-Covid economy valued at £80bn , bigger than Birmingham, Glasgow, Belfast and Cardiff combined) and home to world-leading businesses, universities, and to Heathrow – as well as having good proximity to Central London.
The area’s economy has, however, been amongst those hardest hit by the impact of the pandemic, seeing a contraction of nearly 11% in 2020, and with unemployment levels still nearly double pre-pandemic levels.
The business collaboration was inspired by discussions at the West London Economic Recovery Task Force, set up by West London Alliance – a partnership of seven local authorities – to inform delivery of its Build & Recover Plan.
Convened by John Holland-Kaye (CEO, Heathrow Airport Ltd), this new group of corporate leaders first came together in June 2021 to formulate business-led action to respond to the significant economic contraction West London faced as a result of the pandemic, aligning with and complementing the work driven by local authorities and other partners across the sub-region.
The initiative has been coordinated by West London Business and supported by the West London Alliance.
The corporate leaders have established four workstreams:
- The Skills workstream has worked with education and local authority partners to produce what will now be a quarterly report on the state of the West London labour market. The first report is just published.Its next step is to align corporate partners’ gifting of Apprenticeship Levy underspend to high quality apprenticeships in local SMEs. This should help plug some of the gaps in the most challenging areas for recruitment.
- The Net zero & infrastructure workstream quickly identified a lack of sustained investment in West London’s electricity infrastructure as a key constraint on sustaining economic growth whilst transitioning to net zero. Having confirmed that this is a shared concern of public sector partners the group will now work with West London local authorities through 2022 to input to a demand/ supply forecast and then together engage with the DNOs and National Grid to accelerate investment.
- The first priority of the Sense of place & identity workstream is to join up on Corporate volunteering with a calendar being put together for Q2 2022 activities that respond to local needs. The group is learning from the experience of East London’s Business Alliance as it starts to put this into practice.
- The Business growth & innovation workstream has developed a prototype model to improve signposting and fill gaps in support to the 1200 ‘fast growth’ businesses in West London. This is now moving into a detailed design and then test phase.
The group’s founding participants are: Accor, APCOA, Avado / Blenheim Chalcot, BSI, Dell, Fujitsu, Heathrow, JCDecaux, SAP, SEGRO, Thames Water, Yoo Capital and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.
John Holland-Kaye, Chief Executive of Heathrow Airport Ltd said: “West London’s recovery must go hand in hand with our ambitions to build back better from the pandemic. In the coming months there will be more than 12,000 skilled job opportunities at the airport, and we want to help local people fulfil their potential with us. Last year alone saw 800 colleague promotions and career moves internally as we helped colleagues develop. By working with businesses and leaders across West London our corner of the capital can remain a vibrant and rewarding place for everyone who lives and works here – a place where a kid from a local school can one day become CEO at Heathrow.”
Andrew Dakers, CEO, West London Business said: “The group came together at the height of the pandemic determined to achieve more by working collaboratively to support West London’s recovery. What quickly became clear, from net zero to skills and innovation, was the positive impact that collective voice, problem-solving and delivery of practical solutions might have for the local community. The group is just setting out, but after just seven months can point to some tangible results.”
Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham and Chair of the West London Economic Prosperity Board and Economic Recovery Taskforce said:
“Close working between the public sector and the business community is essential as we look to rebuild West London’s economy from the impact of the pandemic, ensuring businesses thrive and grow in the area and provide opportunities for good jobs for our residents. We are pleased to be working with and supporting the group of corporate leaders committing time and energy to playing their part in securing a solid and inclusive economic recovery for West London.”
Cllr Steve Curran, Leader of the London Borough of Hounslow and Chair of the West London Skills & Employment Board said: “In securing good work in high-skilled, resilient sectors for our residents as we recover from the economic blow dealt to West London by the pandemic, we need to work closely with our business community. It’s great to see the commitment to this shown by so many high-profile businesses with a footprint in West London”.
Other corporates with a significant north-west London footprint are invited to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss joining the initiative, following its formal launch on Wednesday 2 March at the Capital West London Growth Summit.