More than £250 million 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 – is a regional partnership between business, local authorities, skills and training providers, universities, 11 LEPs, community and voluntary groups and others to promote greater collaboration and grow the economy. By 2030 the initiative aims to create 300,000 extra jobs and add £34 billion to the UK economy.
A Midlands Engine interim Board and Delivery Director are already in place, and work is under way to promote investment in the region and develop local firms access to finance through a ‘business bank’. Mr Javid is set to lead a Midlands Engine trade mission, featuring up to 50 representatives of Midlands businesses, to the USA and Canada next month.
Yesterday's Budget saw a number of funding ‘asks’ from the Midlands Engine answered by the Chancellor, including:
Finance for business –
• More than £250 million 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 £1.8 billion 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 £16 million 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 £15 million funding to support lower vehicle emissions technologies.
For more information about the Midlands Engine visit www.gov.uk/government/news/midlands-engine-fired-up-to-drive-34-billion-worth-of-productivity-and-growth
See the Midlands Engine news article for a copy of the prospectus.