Long on the production line, the government’s Midlands Engine growth strategy finally made its way onto the open road. Taking the recent Building our Industrial Strategy Green Paper forward and covering a similar geography to the linked Midlands Connect transport initiative, the Midlands Engine covers over seventy local authorities in the West and East Midlands and ten Local Enterprise Partnerships with the inclusion of the overlapping South East Midlands LEP.
Aimed at addressing barriers to productivity across the Midlands and enabling businesses to create more jobs and to export more goods and services, at the heart of the strategy are five key objectives for the super-region. Each of these objectives is given more substance in the document with a number of specific proposals and spending commitments set out for each one. The objectives are:
In cash terms, the government gives a number of commitments, including:
There will also be a Midlands Trade and Investment Programme to help “position the Midlands Engine on the global stage”. In addition, to help oil the wheels, some £4 million is pledged to support the Midlands’ Engine Partnership of businesses, local authorities, academic institutions and the Local Enterprise Partnerships. In return, the Partnership is invited to set out how “it intends to deliver our shared vision for the Midlands to become an engine of growth”.
Local Growth Fund Allocations
Of the £392 million Local Growth Fund money, the break down for the West Midlands’ Local Enterprise Partnerships is as follows:
|Local Enterprise Partnership||New Growth Funding Allocated|
|Black Country||£55.05 million|
|Coventry and Warwickshire||£42.44 million|
|Greater Birmingham and Solihull||£54.20 million|
|Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire||£23.30 million|
|The Marches||£21.91 million|
Source Midlands Engine Strategy 2017
Growth Deal Area Fact Sheets
While the Strategy sets out some of the schemes by objective, there is also a useful Growth Deal Fact Sheets for each LEP which sets out the schemes that are covered by this funding stream by area. These include, not only the new proposals, but also the funding that was received and the activities that took place under previous Growth Fund rounds.
Black Country and Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEPs
For the Black Country, among other things the new funding is expected to help deliver the Black Country Garden City project; a scheme that will use brownfield land for imaginative place shaping, and the creation of sustainable communities. Among the projects supported by the growth funding in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP area are those aimed at boosting innovation and productivity in key growth sectors such as life sciences, energy, creative, and digital. Other priorities for funding in the area include the Future Skills Fund programme and the harnessing of cultural and creative assets across the LEP.
Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire and The Marches LEPs
Top of the list in the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP factsheet are the improvements of the Hanley-Bentilee link road and the reclamation of land around the Doxey Road and Stafford Western Access Route for new homes and commercial space. For The Marches schemes include the new NMiTE (New Model in Technology and Engineering) university in Hereford which will support business innovation and commercialisation through creating opportunities for greater academic and commercial integration.
Coventry and Warwickshire and Worcestershire LEPs
For the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP one of the objectives is to improve transport infrastructure connections with the East Midlands. This would allow local partners to better support regeneration in Coventry and key towns such as Nuneaton, Bedworth and Rugby by bringing forward underused land. Among the schemes funding by the Growth Fund in Worcestershire LEP area, are the improvements to the A38 corridor which are intended to speed up journey times and to accelerate the development of new housing and the creation of new jobs in the area.
DCLG, HMT and DBEIS - Midlands Engine Strategy, March 2017
DCLG and DBEIS - Midlands: Growth Deals, March 2017
DBEIS - Building our Industrial Strategy, January 2017
Midlands Connect - website
Look out for the full March issue of WMiC in your inbox soon.