FUNDING worth more than £88million will be given to businesses and communities across the region.
The Board of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) approved its UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) investment plan which has trigger the Government’s release of the money to the region over the next three years.
The Board agreed that £42m of the funding should be targeted at helping local businesses with the remainder of the money passed directly to the region’s seven metropolitan authorities – Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton.
The councils can use their portion for community and neighbourhood projects like new green open spaces and to support community groups to help level up and build local pride of place.
The business support funding will see expert advisers deployed at a local level across the region to directly help firms become more competitive and resilient in response to the increasing cost of doing business.
More than half the allocated for business support will be used to deliver specialist programmes that help companies decarbonise their operations, boost productivity and secure additional investment to grow their businesses going forward.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands said: “These are undoubtedly tough times for our region – we’re battling back post Covid, but we now face cost of living pressures as global supply chain disruption, rising energy costs and the conflict in Ukraine contribute to the economic uncertainty.
“At this challenging time, it’s critical we allocate this very welcome new UKSPF money in a way that delivers for local people, places and businesses. Pre-pandemic, we were the fastest growing region outside of London and we can regain ground by taking the right action.”
The UKSPF is a central pillar of the Government’s Levelling Up agenda and is designed to replace the funding that would have been received from the EU.
Its primary goal is to build pride in place and increase life chances across the UK, with three key investment priorities around ‘Community and Place’, ‘Supporting Local Business’, and ‘People and Skills’.
The WMCA, which was tasked by Government to co-ordinate UKSPF for the region, has worked closely with a wide range of organisations including local councils and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in drawing up the investment plan.