EVERYTHING possible is being done to support communities and businesses through the coronavirus crisis, says the chairman of West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe said the authority and partner councils were "playing a full part" by providing support to vulnerable groups, helping businesses access help and working with bus and rail operators to ensure public transport is available to key workers.

She added that the combined authority, in partnership with the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, was also continuing to develop plans to strengthen the economy – backed by the West Yorkshire Devolution Deal – so the region would be well-placed to recover strongly when the national crisis is over.

Councillor Hinchcliffe said: "These are difficult times for West Yorkshire but they are bringing out the best in our public services including our colleagues in the NHS and the thousands of staff in our partner councils moving quickly to ensure children, the elderly and vulnerable are cared for and vital services continue to operate.

“The combined authority’s staff are playing an essential role in the region’s response to coronavirus, from those keeping our bus stations and interchanges open and moving and providing up-to-date travel information to our teams helping businesses access the support they need.

"We are also making additional resource available to our business support teams, providing account managers who are already helping 1,200 companies access help, and co-ordinating the region’s response to the national call for additional ventilator manufacture.

"On public transport we are working with operators to ensure services are available for key workers and relaxing the rules on concessionary travel to help people access shops and the services they need while following social-distancing guidelines.

"As we do all we can to support our communities and businesses, we need the Government to go further in the support it is providing for working families and business, making sure it is as simple as possible to access. It should also be giving local government the maximum freedom to meet the needs of its communities.

"It is also essential that as we deal with the difficult present, we are ready to get the region back on track when the current national crisis is over. We will work through this and get to a more ‘normal’ time again. We have ambitious plans for West Yorkshire. We need to prepare for greater investment arriving later this year with our devolution settlement then we can recover from this situation as quickly as possible and get our economy back on its feet."

Regularly-updated information about the support available to businesses can be found at the-lep.com/business-support/covid-19-support-for-businesses/ or call the support helpline on 0113 348 1818.