Mission to London as region looks to build to a brighter future - The Solihull Observer

Mission to London as region looks to build to a brighter future

Solihull Editorial 25th Sep, 2020   0

POLITICAL and business leaders in the West Midlands are calling on the government to grant further powers and funding to the region to support its economic and community recovery.

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) in partnership with the region’s local authorities, submitted funding proposals to be considered as part of the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, expected later this year.

The proposals cover a range of projects targeting transport and infrastructure, employment and skills, and improving public services.

Key proposals include a fully co-ordinated £1.9billion business growth programme to deliver a ‘giga-factory’, to develop and build battery power for new technology such as electric cars; and Project GREAT, focused on retaining engineering skills in the region.

Both projects would create large employment opportunities while cementing the region’s position as a leader in modern automotive development.

There is also a plan to boost the West Midlands’ cultural offer to attract investors and retain skilled staff in a key area of growth.

It would capitalise on the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022 and Coventry City of Culture in 2021 potentially generating or safeguarding 30,000 jobs and a £4bn uplift to the economy.

The plans also include support for those people on the front line in the fight against the virus.

Initiatives include Homes for Covid Heroes – a £50million project to build quality affordable homes to be made principally available to frontline workers.

A £13.7m project aimed at tackling homelessness is also included, building on the ‘Everyone In’ initiative by providing shelter and support for those who have built up unmanageable levels of rent or arrears.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Before the pandemic our region was making good progress, with our West Midlands economy growing faster than any other outside London.

“As our region now responds to the many challenges we face as we recover from the pandemic, our plans are all about protecting jobs – and getting our economy back on track.

“This submission demonstrates clearly our ambitious plan for our recovery, by securing investment in transport, housing and the high-tech ‘green’ jobs of the future.”

Councillor Ian Ward, chair of the region’s metropolitan council leaders and leader of Birmingham City Council, added: “This submission is the government’s chance to properly fund local institutions and invest in areas of growth that can provide the jobs, homes and healthcare the people of the West Midlands need right now.”

Currently, life expectancy in the West Midlands lags behind the rest of England by 3.6 years and the region has seen some of the highest levels of coronavirus cases.

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