£130m scheme aimed at protecting jobs across Warwickshire will be envied by other counties, councillors say

Councillors believe the scheme will protect 4,000 jobs and create 2,200 more

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 5:07 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st July 2021, 5:08 pm
Shire Hall in Warwick, the county council's headquarters.
Shire Hall in Warwick, the county council's headquarters.

An ambitious investment scheme aimed at protecting jobs across Warwickshire could become a benchmark and envied by other authorities according to county councillors.

Cross-party support was given to the £130m Warwickshire Recovery Investment Fund which aims to safeguard and create thousands of jobs by offering loans to businesses.

Cllr Peter Butlin (Con, Admirals and Cawston), Warwickshire County Council’s portfolio holder for finance and property, outlined how the scheme would work at this week’s [THU] full council meeting.

He said: “This is about recovery, about investing in the businesses in Warwickshire. A lot of businesses will have had to find extra investment just to continue existing - we are plugging a gap in investment funds where government funding is falling away.

“It is estimated that this will safeguard over 4,000 jobs and create 2,200 more. I think it is a wise investment of our money in terms of getting businesses and people back to work once the lockdown is over and the furlough scheme comes to an end.

“It is not there to make a great deal of money for us although it will wipe its face - it is reckoned it will make us about £4.6m over the five-year period. This is about more than money, this is about getting people back on their feet and the dignity of a job because there is nothing less dignified than not having one.”

Cllr Adrian Warwick (Con, Fosse) added: “This is an ambitious scheme and a scheme that is needed in these unprecedented times when jobs need to be protected. I think this will become a benchmark and a scheme envied by councils up and down the country.

Cllr Sarah Feeney (Labour, Benn) urged the council to ensure that all parts of the community were able to access the loans when they were made available and there was also support from the Liberal Democrat group.

Cllr Sarah Boad (Lib Dem, Leamington North) said: “I think this is a very exciting and forward-looking scheme. It is a huge amount of money but I think the safeguards are built in.

“There are huge opportunities to be lending to companies showing innovation and doing things for the good of Warwickshire and the rest of the country.”

The Greens chose not to support the scheme, opting instead to abstain in the vote.

Cllr Jonathan Chilvers (Green, Leamington Brunswick) explained: “I think this is a brave and well thought through plan to provide funding when there was a market failure in the country. I can’t say that we, as a group, would commit £130m over five years because we think there are other priorities.”