Urgent support for aviation communities needed after stark report forecasts almost £1bn lost and a third of jobs at risk in Hounslow

Hounslow Council is calling for targeted support for aviation communities.

Published: Friday, 11th September 2020

Image of Cllr Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council and his Cabinet portfolio

Hounslow Council is calling for targeted support for aviation communities following a stark report which forecasts thousands of job losses and a possible £961 million hit to the borough’s economy.

With thousands of jobs already lost in aviation due to the impact of Covid-19, the independent report by Oxford Economics estimates that 2020 could see a further 4,000 job losses in the borough directly due to the reduced number of visitors to Heathrow, and tens of thousands more at risk due to the impact on related sectors.

In turn, this could lead to £480 million being lost from the local economy in 2020, extreme hardship for local families and communities whose livelihoods depend on the aviation sector, and extra pressure on government support services. It is forecast that the economy is not likely to recover until 2023, incurring further losses of about £410 million in 2021 and £70 million in 2022, taking the total projected loss to Hounslow’s economy to almost £1 billion over three years.

The report, published on the day of a Parliamentary debate on the impact of coronavirus on aviation, studied the effect of reduced activity at Heathrow Airport and its implications for the borough. It estimates that Heathrow supports more than 16,000 jobs and, given Hounslow’s proximity to the airport and the M25, this creates a catalytic effect that attracts businesses to the area, especially transport and logistic companies. It is estimated that this catalytic effect brings the final total to between 29,000 and 43,000 jobs, nearly a third of Hounslow residents’ employment, the future of which could be in doubt.

Many of these jobs are concentrated in sectors which are more likely to employ lower skilled, lower paid workers. Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups, as well as younger people, are expected to be disproportionately affected.

To mitigate the impact, protect communities and maximise the economic potential in the borough to support the UK’s economy, the Council is calling for revenue and infrastructure investment which would include:

  • Skills development and training so that those losing their jobs can take up opportunities in growth sectors, such as the green economy for example, through expansion of its successful Skills Escalator Programme
  • Support to entrepreneurs and micro-businesses to re-focus on opportunities outside the airport eco-system
  • Transport links connecting communities to other employment hubs, and driving growth in jobs and homes
  • Investment in digital infrastructure to support growth sectors
  • Local infrastructure priorities to ensure continued economic activity in communities

The Council will also be leading an exploration, alongside the West London Alliance and other local authorities impacted by the downturn in aviation, of proposals for an Aviation Community Fund. This fund would enable investment in skills and infrastructure to support local people to retrain for roles of the future (including those in aviation) and enable airports and their surrounding communities to collaborate on investment beneficial to both. 

The request of the sector, other aviation communities and the Government is to commit to jointly exploring this, and other initiatives, together.

Cllr Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council, said: “Our economy is headed for extremely turbulent times and this study is a stark warning that we need to act now to help support our communities, not just here in Hounslow but those across the country with strong links to the aviation industry. Underneath the numbers and predictions are real people whose livelihoods depend on the aviation sector and its supply chain. Many are small, often long-standing family-run businesses that form the economic ecosystem around an airport.

“Thousands of individuals and businesses in communities reliant on the aviation industry are facing widespread unemployment, deprivation and barriers to securing future work. Those communities around airports, so impacted by the crisis, cannot be forgotten and their huge potential to support the UK’s recovery squandered. They must be treated differently with a place-based approach.

“That is why we are acting now to call for Government and wider industry to recognise that our communities cannot be forgotten in the debate about airports.  We are already engaging with our partners across West London, with Government and other local authorities across the UK, to draw up a compelling proposition for an Aviation Community Fund, that will both respond to our needs in Hounslow, but also those of aviation communities across the country.”

A copy of the report is available here.


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