West in line for 50,000 jobs in the “green economy”

The front page of the Western Morning News (WMN) introduces this report from the TUC by saying it echoes demands from the Great South West alliance of businesses, local MPs, councillors, and the region’s Local Enterprise Partnerships (championed by the WMN).

Owl thinks it places a quite different set of priorities on: “Build,build,build”, benefiting the community and environment, not just developers.

Report can be found here

Philip Bowern Western Morning News 24 August

Close to 50,000 jobs could be created in the South West if the government backs a regional programme for green infrastructure, trade union bosses believe.

New analysis by the TUC, out today, show 46,453 jobs could be directly created in the next two years in the South West if the government supported fast-track investment in the so-called ‘green economy:

The commissioned research by Transition Economics forms part of a national TUC report – ‘Voice and place: how to plan fair and successful paths to net zero emissions’ – that draws on the expertise of local union reps on the challenges and opportunities available, with case studies and recommendations for regional and national policy.

According to the federation of trade unions, lessons must be learnt from previous recessions in order to achieve a fair and successful transition to a net zero South West, whilst boosting jobs and avoiding mass unemployment.

Fears have been expressed by environmentalists that the Prime Minister’s pledge to “build, build, build” to overcome the recession caused by Covid-19 could undo years of work to improve air quality and combat climate change.

But the TUC highlights that thousands more jobs in supply chains could also be supported in the region as a result of an £85 billion national intervention, while still observing green credentials.

The numbers of new jobs are based on ‘shovel-ready’ locally-led infrastructure projects that promote a greener, fairer and stronger economy including:

  • 16,755 jobs building much-needed social housing
  • 12,691 jobs creating sustainable transport networks, with expanded rail, electric car charging points and more cycle lanes and pedestrian routes
  • 9,564 jobs retrofitting social housing and public buildings to higher environmental standards

Trade union leaders say plans must be tailored for the industry, culture and geography of the region, with prime opportunities to:

  • Accelerate the upgrade of the rail system
  • Improve the travel network with -charging points for electric vehicles and plans for pedestrian and cycling schemes
  • Build high-quality social housing with low carbon technologies; and retrofit social housing and public buildings
  • Harness the South West’s green energy potential, using the region’s world class R&D resources and expertise.

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership has already announced 1,100 jobs would be supported following a £14.3 million cash boost, as part of the government’s Getting Building Fund.

But the TUC say that while helpful this is just a drop in the ocean given the real threat of job losses and mass redundancies expected in the coming months.

The South West is set to be hard hit by the post-Covid recession, with the tourism and hospitality industries badly affected during lockdown and still suffering as the region emerges tentatively from tough measures imposed to slow the spread of the pandemic.

According to the latest government figures 83,400 workers in Cornwall remain furloughed under the job retention scheme amounting to 37% of the Cornish working population.

The number of people claiming welfare and unemployment support since March has also more than doubled since the lockdown began – from 8,810 claimants , to 20,530 in July, clear warning signs of struggles to come, says the TUC.