More than £250million from the Chancellor’s 2016 Budget will fuel the ambitions of the ‘Midlands Engine for Growth’.
The Midlands Engine – the Prospectus for which was officially launched by Business Secretary Sajid Javid MP, at Birmingham University in December 2015 (pictured above) – is a regional partnership between business, local authorities, skills and training providers, universities, 11 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), community and voluntary groups, and others to promote greater collaboration, to grow the economy. By 2030 the initiative aims to create 300,000 extra jobs and add £34billion to the UK economy.
A Midlands Engine (ME) interim Board and Delivery Director are already in place, and work is underway to promote investment in the region and develop local firms access to finance through a ‘business bank’. Mr Javid is set to lead an ME trade mission, featuring up to 50 representatives of Midlands’ businesses, to the USA and Canada in April.
The Budget saw a number of funding ‘asks’ from the Midlands Engine answered by the Chancellor, including on:
Finance for business –
- More than £250million agreed for a Midlands Engine Investment Fund – a ‘fund of funds’ investing in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – agreed between Government and the British Business Bank; and Midlands Engine partners, subject to final funding arrangements.
- Midlands Connect – the initiative already working to better integrate all transport networks across the region, and between those and other regions – will be put on a statutory footing by the end of 2018, to create a sub-national transport body for the region. Midlands Connect also received £5million in the July 2015 Budget. It is seen as vital in taking forward Midlands Engine ambitions.
- Priority roads development work will include the continued development of the M1, between London through the Midlands and up to Yorkshire, into a smart motorway (through technological improvements)
- Further improvements will also be made to three major Midlands roads at the A46 Newark bypass and its A1 junction, by upgrading single carriageway on the A45 Stanwick to Thrapston, and upgrading the M42 and M5 around Birmingham to a four lane smart motorway.
- Launch of a ‘Local Majors Fund’, enabling local areas to bid for funding for large local transport projects.
Local Enterprise Partnerships and Enterprise Zones –
- Up to £1.8billion will be allocated nationally through a further round of Growth Deals with Local Enterprise Partnerships, including the 11 in the Midlands Engine area, later this year.
- New Enterprise Zones proposed for Loughborough/Leicester, building on the area’s strengths in space science and research, and at Brierley Hill, Dudley.
- Additionally Enterprise Zones in the Midlands Engine area will be able to offer enhanced capital allowances, for eight years from the establishment of relevant sites.
- A Midlands-wide science and innovation audit, to map its research and innovation strengths, to identify areas of potential competitive advantage, will also be undertaken.
- A £16million research and development fund, match-funded by industry, will support East Midlands’ aerospace. It includes £7million to help Rolls-Royce develop new high-temperature alloys in Derby.
- The Midlands will also receive over £15million funding to support lower vehicle emissions technologies.
Commenting on the announcements David Frost, Interim Chairman of the Midlands Engine Board, and Chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire LEP, said: “The Midlands Engine for Growth is a huge undertaking; a partnership seeking to grow the economy to improve life for the more than ten million people living in the region and boost UK business.
“The Chancellor’s support for our ambitions through today’s Budget announcements, particularly in the £250million Midlands Engine Investment Fund and confidence in Midlands Connect becoming a statutory body, show that we are already on the right track and that Government has faith in our long-term objectives.”
For more information about the Midlands Engine see web link www.gov.uk/government/news/midlands-engine-fired-up-to-drive-34-billion-worth-of-productivity-and-growth .
An online copy of the Midlands Engine Prospectus can be read at www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/482247/midlands-engine-for-growth.pdf