Government pledges £91m to top-up West Midlands Growth Deals

Original article is written by Duncan Tift – Deputy Editor, West Midlands. The Business Desk

THE Government has pledged a further £91m to the West Midlands with the announcement of top-up packages to last year’s Growth Deals.
The money is being split between the six Local Enterprise Partnerships in the region and is in addition to the £774.8m committed to the various LEPs in July.
The Government has said the Growth Deals are intended to generate more than 50,000 new jobs in the region over the next five years, together with the construction of 14,150 new homes. It is intended that £865.8m will also lead to a separate investment of £922m from the public and private sectors.
The package of measures announced today have a strong focus on improving skills levels, driving business growth and supporting infrastructure improvements.

While the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP is the largest in the region (reflected by its overall Growth Plan settlement), its top-up package is relatively small at £21.4m. Added to last year’s award, the area has a total commitment of £378.8m.
Arguably the biggest winner in the deals announced today is The Black Country, which has been awarded an additional £24m on top of the £138m it received last summer.

Elsewhere, The Marches LEP has been given £7.7m, topping up its overall total to £83m, while Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire gets an extra £15.4m to bring its total to £97.7m.
Coventry & Warwickshire gets an additional £15.3m, bringing its total up to £89.4m, while Worcestershire receives an additional £7.2m to make its overall settlement £54.2m.

In Birmingham, the settlement will help towards the completion of the city’s Wholesale Markets and fund expansion of the Innovation Birmingham campus, while in the Black Country, money will be pumped into an upgrade to Wolverhampton City College and the creation of a new light transit innovation centre in Dudley, being run in partnership with Warwick Manufacturing Group.

In The Marches, money will be spent on the roll-out of high speed broadband together with a new higher education centre in Shrewsbury. Neighbouring Worcestershire will get help unblocking potential employment sites such as Evesham Vale Park.

Bringing forward key employment sites in Coventry & Warwickshire, such as Friargate, is an important element of the settlement there, while in Stoke & Staffordshire, money will be spent on the development of a new enterprise quarter in Tamworth and improvements to the road network around Stoke city centre.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Giving local communities the power and the money to unlock growth and development and make the spending decisions that work for them is a key part of our long-term economic plan to secure a brighter future for Britain and ensure a recovery for all.

“And this is happening in (the West Midlands), with more money announced today for key projects to boost the local economy as part of the multi-million pound expansion of the Government’s Growth Deals.

“And because the money will be in the control of a partnership of local community, business and civic leaders it means it will go on the things that really matter to people and businesses here.”

Welcoming the announcement, Stewart Towe, chairman of the Black Country LEP, said: “The expansion of the Black Country Growth Deal is welcome news as it reinforces the momentum behind the renaissance of the Black Country. The additional investment will increase capital grants and support for business, equip the next generation with the skills they need to provide new housing and create a Light Rail Innovation Centre to develop the technology.”

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