Our vision for Kirklees is to be a district that combines a strong, sustainable economy with a great quality of life - leading to thriving communities, growing businesses, high prosperity and low inequality where people enjoy better health throughout their lives.
An inclusive recovery
The pandemic has had a significant impact on life in Kirklees as it has across the globe. Since March 2020, council staff and councillors, community organisations and partners have worked together to respond to the crisis, supporting vulnerable people, helping local businesses and working with our communities.
Our recovery will see actions being delivered across the short, medium and long term. We are working on a short-term recovery plan for services which have experienced delays, or have not been able to do things because of the pandemic. Alongside this, we are working with our partners to understand the ongoing impacts of the pandemic and agree our collective actions for the medium to longer term.
In our response, we have had to do new things and do things very differently.
Our community response brought together the council, councillors, partners, voluntary and community groups and individual volunteers. A total of 130 local mutual aid groups added a huge capacity of neighbourhood level support. Eight voluntary sector anchor organisations coordinated local efforts. We are proud of the flexibility shown by staff redeployed to help people access prescriptions, food, welfare and grant funding, and we are prouder still of our communities who have shown kindness and compassion in the face of common challenges.
Our economic recovery plan included the allocation of £173m of financial support from the government to over 9,000 local businesses. This had a significant impact on the viability of businesses in our local economy. Going forward, we will focus on supporting businesses in their continued recovery and working to support the successful recovery of our town and village centres to raise pride in our local places.
Our Public Health function has continued to offer COVID-19 outbreak advice to local organisations, and we've worked with Public Health England to help manage outbreaks in communities, local businesses, care homes and educational settings. Our Surge Testing Plans have been carried out with the support of our local COVID-19 Community Response Officers, and our approach has been recognised and replicated by other local authorities across the country.
To help respond to these new challenges we created a resilience pool of over 100 staff, working in very different roles in order to fulfil important new responsibilities like the delivery of our testing centres. We will build on this going forward to create ways that staff in the resilience pool can work in other services when needed and can develop into a talent pipeline for the future.
We worked with partners to roll out the vaccination programme, and helped set up pop-up vaccination clinics, which helped to significantly increase vaccine uptake and increase self-isolation payments.
In all our responses, we recognised the urgency of tackling the inequalities that the pandemic so bluntly exposed. Measures were quickly put in place to support people in education, employment, accessing healthcare, homelessness services and access to foodbanks, because we recognised the importance of quick action. We have also been working to deliver priority actions to create a more inclusive council and borough, including piloting a new approach to health checks that will increase uptake in communities, developing engagement and involvement activity for young Black and Minority Ethnic communities, and improving our own practices as an inclusive employer.
Our Business Continuity Framework meant that critical services were able to continue to operate throughout the pandemic and has shown that we have the right plans in place to respond to emergencies in the future.
As restrictions have slowly been lifted over the course of the last year, we have taken a careful approach to recovering services, prioritising the improvement of outcomes for the most vulnerable. Many of our services were involved in working closely with partners to ensure the safe re-opening of schools, retail and local businesses - a significant achievement.
Now, we are putting in place the foundations for our recovery and looking towards a more positive future - where we can address some of the longer-term impacts the pandemic has had on things like people's mental health and the impact on educational outcomes. The ongoing impact of the pandemic, especially over the winter period will be closely monitored and our actions and response adjusted accordingly. We can't be certain about the full impacts of the pandemic yet, but we need to move at pace and ensure we are able to respond to the changing picture as it develops.
Our approach to recovery is based on learning from our response and seizing the opportunity to do things differently. Our economic and social recovery must include all our citizens and communities and will transform the way that we work, the way we deliver services, and the way that we achieve the outcomes set out in this plan.
Refreshing our strategic framework across the Kirklees Economic Strategy, Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy and Inclusive Communities Framework will allow us to set out how we will work with people and partners and in our places to do this.
And internally, we are changing the way we work as an organisation, moving towards a more flexible way of working, and improving digital connectivity, wellbeing and workplaces for all our office-based and frontline staff. Our People Strategy outcomes of supporting wellbeing, developing people, having compassionate and effective leaders, and becoming an inclusive and flexible employer of choice will help strengthen our resilience as an organisation and support the delivery of our ambitions for recovery.
By working with citizens through the new outcome introduced in this plan and with inclusion at the heart of everything that we do, working with our partners we will shape an inclusive recovery for all the citizens and places of Kirklees.
How we'll achieve our vision
"I care for the place I live and the people that live there"
What this means for citizens is that:
Kirklees in 2030 will be shaped by our approach of working with people and partners using a place-based approach...
which will feed into our shared outcomes of:
- Shaped by people
- Best start
- Aspire and achieve
- Sustainable economy
- Safe and cohesive
- Clean and green
- Efficient and effective
which will achieve our vision...
which will in turn inform our approach.