Senior politicians and business leaders across the West Midlands are hailing the country’s biggest devolution deal to date. The proposed agreement with government will see it make an annual contribution worth £40 million for 30 years to support an overall investment package worth £8 billion, which alongside the creation of up to half a million jobs.
The proposed deal will give the emerging West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), working across the geography of the three Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), the funding and the powers to further grow the regional economy and focus on the issues that really matter to the people and businesses of the region; transport, jobs, skills and homes.
The proposed agreement with government will see the WMCA responsible for an investment package worth more than £4 billion to deliver the HS2 growth strategy, with the potential to add £14 billion to the area’s economy as well as the creation of around 100,000 related jobs. This will support the delivery of the metro extensions to Brierley Hill and HS2 interchange, as well as the UK Central infrastructure package and improving connectivity to Coventry.
The deal will also see devolved funding and responsibility for administering the 19+ adult skills budget and business support programmes, as well as a £200m land remediation fund that will allow brownfield land to be brought back in to use for housing and employment. This is on top of a planned £50m Business Innovation Centre for the West Midlands.
The WMCA will also bring forward a housing investment fund to support the development of new homes and a locally funded £1bn Collective Investment Vehicle to help companies invest and grow in the region.
The transformation of public services also features in the deal with government. It has committed to working alongside the WMCA in co-designing approaches to improving the life chances of troubled individuals and to designating the region as a pilot area for its review of the Youth Justice system.
The proposed devolution agreement is based on the region agreeing to an elected Mayor who will lead a cabinet of council leaders.
Councillor Bob Sleigh, Chair of the WMCA’s Shadow Board, said:
"This is an historic moment for the West Midlands. We have moved incredibly quickly to create the partnership between the seven metropolitan councils and our three LEPs and we are delighted the government has recognised this and has rewarded our ambition with the biggest investment package in the country.
"We are committed to building on our strengths, including our exports and our inward investment, and to working towards increasing the £80 billion that the region currently contributes to the UK economy. This proposed deal, which must be agreed by each individual authority, allows us to keep more of the income that we generate and to re-invest it across the region, without the need to refer back to government.”
Councillor Darren Cooper, Vice Chair of the WMCA’s Shadow Board, said:
"We have been clear all along that we would push for the best deal we could get for the West Midlands and we have achieved that. However, this is only the start of our devolution story. The key issues here are very simple. By working together we believe we can create a vibrant, successful and sustainable region where people want to live and invest. More and better jobs, improved transport and good quality housing are at the heart of this deal and by moving decision making out of Whitehall directly to the West Midlands we can and we will make a real difference.”
Stewart Towe, Chair of the Black Country LEP said:
"This proposed devolution deal is a real opportunity for the West Midlands, in agreement with Government, to take control of our own economic growth and to continue to work with our partners across the West Midlands including Local Authorities and fellow LEPs Birmingham and Solihull and Coventry and Warwickshire.
"The level of partnership between public and private sector, which is unique to the West Midlands proposed devolution deal, is focused on investing in the region, creating new jobs, improving skills, delivering more homes and dramatically improving transport. This proposed devolution deal will make a real difference to people young and old and to businesses across the West Midlands.”
For more information visit www.westmidlandscombinedauthority.org.uk