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Report outlines how Berkshire's economy can recover from COVID-19

A blueprint on how Berkshire’s economy will recover from the coronavirus pandemic has been published.

Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Recovery and Renewal Plan identifies connectivity, collaboration and skills training as three priorities for the region.

The plan also reiterates the county’s commitment to becoming a net zero carbon economy by 2050.

The LEP anticipates the return to a traditional office-based five-days-a-week routine for workers could be slow to return in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis.

It is now hoping to attract companies who wish to relocate from London in response to an increase in flexible working.

The report said: “We do not seek to compete with other parts of the UK. Instead, as some organisations give up their London HQs, we wish to be seen as a viable UK alternative to a move overseas.”

The partnership said increased digital and physical connectivity will give Berkshire a ‘cutting edge’ over other regions.

Targets have been set eliminate all 4G ‘not spots’ in Berkshire by 2022 and increase the percentage of Berkshire premises connected to full-fibre networks from 11 per cent to 95 per cent by 2025.

The LEP sees the proposed Western Rail Link to Heathrow as a key project to shorten journey times to the UK’s busiest airport and remove 5,100 tonnes of vehicle CO2 emissions from the roads each year.

The report highlight’s the reliance of Slough’s workforce on Heathrow Airport with almost 5,000 residents employed there as of 2018.

An outreach programme is planned to support those who have been affected by job losses in the aviation sector.

The Recovery and Renewal Plan also prioritises the need for a skilled and fulfilled workforce in Berkshire.

A new skills and employment portal, Berkshire Opportunities, has been launched to combat employment and skills challenged brought about by coronavirus.

The LEP is also looking to develop a five-year investment plan with Further Education colleges in Berk-shire to support training and development in skills shortage areas such as technology, health and social care.

Alison Webster, CEO, Thames Valley Berkshire LEP said: “Our ambition is that Berkshire will be recognised as the best place in the UK to do business, to work and to live.

“Coronavirus has undoubtedly presented huge challenges, however the publication of our Recovery and Renewal Plan should provide a sense of optimism and hope.

“It provides the blueprint for Berkshire’s continued resilience and future success, detailing how we will work with partners to boost the prosperity and quality of life for the people and businesses of Berkshire.”

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