Growth in digital and creative industries and support for a greener economy will help the Greater Brighton City Region bounce back from the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was claimed today.

Chairman of the Greater Brighton Economic Board, Cllr Daniel Humphreys, said he was confident the combined resources and talents of all partners would ensure the region could handle the difficult times ahead.

Cllr Humphreys, who is also leader of Worthing Borough Council, has just been elected chairman of the City Region for a second year. The board which coordinates region activities consists of seven local authorities, two universities and business partners. He said:

“I don’t hide from the fact that Greater Brighton, in common with the rest of the UK, has suffered a terrible economic blow in 2020 and we have not seen the worst of it yet. But the plan of action we are putting together with the existing strengths of the region make me very confident that we can recover from this.”

A report commissioned by Greater Brighton shows that the economy is estimated to shrink by 11 per cent this year and fears remain about rising unemployment among the young, especially in retail, hospitality and tourism, when the government’s job retention scheme is wound down this month.

Against this backdrop Cllr Humphreys will unveil a Covid-19 Recovery Plan when the Greater Brighton Board meets tomorrow (Oct 20).

Among the programmes proposed to lead the bounce back are:

Supporting creative industries with small business grants and digital infrastructure to allow them to grow.

Supporting digital industries, which are worth more than £1bn a year to the region’s economy, by backing a skills programme and ensuring digital infrastructure is able to support growth.

Supporting clean growth as a new driver of the economy with Greater Brighton’s energy and water conservation plans creating a multi-million pound ‘green’ industry.

The report also outlines plans to provide more flexible workspaces for new businesses, support new high-powered quantum computing networks to create new businesses and employment, lobby government for support for tourism and young people employment measures.

It wants to see the region as a hydrogen hub to support clean transport as well as retrofitting existing housing to improve energy efficiency and back a new drive to increase the level of inward investment into Greater Brighton from around the world which is currently at low levels.

Said Cllr Humphreys:

“We are lucky in some ways in that Greater Brighton already has leading businesses in areas such as digital, research, and tourism and our green industries are continuing to grow so that we have something to build on.

“Greater Brighton’s job in the next year is to use our combined strengths and also our lobbying power to help put our region back on its feet. This will also need a much greater emphasis on attracting inward investment here using those messages that all of us here already recognise, namely that this is a fantastic place in which to invest, work and live.”

The report will be voted on by GBEB members at tomorrow’s meeting.