A NEW £6 million fund will be set up to help West Yorkshire's entrepreneurs as the region emerges from lockdown.

And the cash will particularly be targeted as helping underrepresented groups.

The Entrepreneurship Package of Support was approved by West Yorkshire Combined Authority on Tuesday, when members were told it would be times with the end of the furlough scheme in September.

West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin says the scheme will help create around 2,250 jobs in the region, and the authority hopes that it will encourage people who may have lost their jobs through the pandemic to set up their own businesses, and even help bring life back to high streets that have suffered from high profile closures.

A report to the Authority's Investment Committee said the fund would "encourage individuals from diverse communities across West Yorkshire to explore establishing their own enterprise and providing the right opportunity and support if they decide to do so - leading to the creation of new businesses and jobs."

The funding will have three "streams" to it.

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The first will "create the appetite and interest from individuals to consider enterprise as a career."

The next one will support people as they set up their businesses.

And the final stream will boost start ups with "high growth potential."

The report added: "The programme will play a major role in delivering the Economic Recovery Plan for West Yorkshire and will also align with planned investments to rejuvenate and reinvigorate town and district centres, including through the re-starting of businesses and the use of vacant buildings for commercial use.

"The gap in start-up support is a particular issue in West Yorkshire. During the pandemic the Combined Authority’s Growth Service identified a significant increase in the number of enquiries around starting a business. There is a current – pressing – opportunity to capitalise on both this existing interest in enterprise and attract new individuals to consider enterprise as a career choice."

At the meeting Ian Smythe said: "It will be in time for the end of furlough - a key time where there will be both risk and opportunities for people. When furlough ends some jobs may not exist anymore."

Set up by the Government at the start of the Pandemic, the furlough scheme helped fund businesses to keep paying their workers if they were unable to do their jobs because of Covid restrictions.

The scheme ends in September, and there are currently believed to be around 4 million people across the UK on furlough.

There have been concerns that once it ends, many businesses will cut staff, leading to an increase in unemployment.

The report into the Combined Authority's support plans says the aim is for at least 15 per cent of those supported to be from BAME backgrounds and for 25 per cent to be women.