Following four months of work and collaboration with local stakeholders, Heathrow and Lord Blunkett have released the airport’s plan to drive local economic growth post-pandemic. The local economic recovery plan comes at a critical time, as new research from Oxford Economics reveals that there could be 16,000 fewer jobs in the communities around Heathrow in 2021 versus 2019 as a result of the devastating economic impacts of COVID-19.
Heathrow’s action plan has been developed alongside local councils, enterprise partnerships, education providers, business groups and chambers of commerce and will establish a new Heathrow Local Recovery Forum chaired by Lord Blunkett to drive forward the plan’s recommendations.
Amongst the plan’s recommendations, Heathrow has created a dedicated Heathrow Job Centre Plus Service in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions to support colleagues across Team Heathrow and the local community to access job search support and careers, information, advice and guidance. The plan has also identified two policy asks, which request greater flexibility in the Government’s employment support processes. The plans asks the UK Government to temporarily introduce flexibility into how the Apprenticeship Levy can be used, and to provide support through reskilling and retraining opportunities to help people to stay in or find new employment.
Heathrow is leading the charge to ensure aviation restarts safely and at pace, in order to protect the thousands of local livelihoods that rely on the airport for work. Heathrow has taken proactive action to help encourage the introduction of passenger testing within the UK’s airports. Heathrow has established trials of both the Government’s official PCR test and a number of alternative “Rapid Point of Care” tests, in order to aid Government planning and demonstrate that passenger testing provides a safe method to re-open air travel and kick-start the national and local economies.
Heathrow also recognises the significant threat posed by the Government’s proposed end to duty-free shopping on local jobs and is working to ensure the Government reconsiders its plan to abolish tax-free shopping. The airport has joined forces with World Duty Free and Global Blue to Judicially Review the Government’s intention to both abolish the VAT Retail Export Scheme (RES) from the UK and withdraw airside tax free shopping in all UK airports. Heathrow will continue to work with Treasury Ministers and officials to find solutions to support the UK’s competitiveness as a shopping destination and airport retail, as it recovers from its worst financial year on record.
John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow Chief Executive Officer has said:
“The impact of COVID-19 on the aviation industry and the communities we support has been unprecedented. To combat the significant damaged caused by the aviation downturn, Heathrow, in partnership with many of our local stakeholders, has produced the Local Recovery Plan. This initiative sets out the commitments we are making to ensure we protect the future security of the economies and communities who rely on Heathrow. As we work through this crisis, I believe it is more important than ever for Heathrow and our partners to work collaboratively, to ensure that as we rebuild, we provide a pathway that allows Heathrow and its communities to build back better.”
Lord David Blunkett, Chair of the Heathrow Local Recovery Forum has said:
“The impact of COVID-19 on Heathrow has had a devastating knock-on effect on the local communities who heavily rely upon the airport. The future of local livelihoods and economies is of paramount importance to Heathrow, with hundreds of local businesses relying on the airport to export their goods and services. This is about real people, the wellbeing of individuals and families as well as retaining the business and economic capacity to make recovery a reality. In simple terms, a bridge from where we are to a future which will require the skills, innovation and commitment of everyone. In order to empower a successful recovery, Heathrow has worked collaboratively with local stakeholders and the end result is the creation of the Heathrow Local Recovery Plan. This plan will form the first crucial step in surpassing the impacts of COVID-19 and I know will ensure we rebuild the economy in an innovative and sustainable way.”
Paul Britton, CEO of the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce further added:
“The aviation sector has been hit incredibly hard, as has the significant supply chain across the Thames Valley during the pandemic. Heathrow has worked with the Chamber and other key partners to set out a recovery plan with practical recommendations and pledges to mitigate the impact on people and businesses across our local communities and help expedite economic recovery and growth.”