There’s still lots we don’t know about the long-term impact of COVID-19, but one thing that’s abundantly clear is that it is having significant economic consequences for Southampton.

We all have a part to play in loving our local businesses, which will ultimately help our local economy recover and thrive.

As part of our response, we have sought to provide local businesses with financial support, to keep them afloat and enable them to look after their employees.

To date, we have delivered over £50m in government grants to over 3,000 local businesses and redistributed £1m in apprenticeship levy funds to SMEs.

That is a great short-term lifeline.

But what we need is a plan for economic recovery: new ways of supporting the unemployed, the young, the unskilled; new ways of helping businesses secure new opportunities.

A new strategy for recovery

The consultation has just closed on our Economic and Green Growth Strategy.

This outlines our wider plan to build our city’s future economy so that everyone benefits from improved opportunities and outcomes.

This strategy builds on our existing economic growth and Green City agendas and sets out our plan to restore and renew our economy as a greener, fairer and healthier city.

Sustainable growth will be delivered through ambitious developments such as the Mayflower Quarter, the Local Plan and the 1,000-home programme.

Growth will ensure our city is constantly evolving, is more digitally connected, and that there are plenty of cultural and community facilities.

One major opportunity is to build on our strong arts and culture sector, as part of cementing our reputation as an international gateway and that is why we are bidding to become UK City of Culture 2025. Becoming the UK City of Culture will not only aid economic recovery but also create a real sense of pride in our city for all of us.

How you can make a difference:

Once lockdown is eased, we will once again support closed businesses to re-open safely. However, there are still many ways local people can make a difference and support local businesses during lockdown whilst also keeping Southampton safe.

Cllr Steve Leggett

Cabinet member for Green City and Space

Southampton City Council