Heather Jameson 06 July 2015

West Midlands Combined Authority reveals its plans

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has published its plans to tackle infrastructure, economic growth and public sector reform across the region.

In a document which sets out how the authority will work, the WMCA has vowed to ‘create the most effective Combined authority in the Country in order to propel our economy to further growth than can be achieved at present’.

Covering Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Wallsall and Wolverhampton local authorities and three LEP areas, sets out the international, national and local challenges ahead on skills, unemployment, public services and infrastructure.

It’s early priorities include:

- developing and economic plan
- accessing finance and a collective investment vehicle
- resolving transport issues
- creating an economic policy
- developing a programme on skills

Leader of Coventry City Council, Ann Lucas, said the region faced some ‘critical challenges. ‘By working together we can move powers from Whitehall to the West Midlands to improve performance across all these areas. And our proposed Combined Authority will make a huge contribution to building a wider Midlands Engine in the heart of the country.

‘Since the General Election in May there has been unprecedented collaboration between political colleagues in the West Midlands, as well as our LEP Chairs and business leader, to establish this new partnership. Our aim is to consult and work with more partners across the private, public and third sector so that we can establish our Combined Authority in April next year.’

Cllr Bob Sleigh, leader of Solihull Council, said the combined authority provided a ‘unique opportunity’ for the region. ‘We recognise there is a £16bn output gap between the West Midlands and the national average. We generate around £4000 per person less in wealth than the national average and eliminating that gap is one of our key priorities moving forward.

‘Last year the Chancellor spoke about the need to rebalance the UK economy and now, collectively, we are responding in our own terms, through the creation of the West Midlands Combined Authority at the heart of a Midlands Engine.’

Last week, one in five local authorities predicted they will become part of a new combined authority by 2020.

Visit The MJ for more on this combined authority.

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