The West Midlands has received a multi-million pound cash boost from Whitehall in order to ‘fire up the Midlands Engine’, the communities secretary announced yesterday.
The transfer of £36.5m to the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is a part of the region’s devolution deal – the first of payments totalling £1.1bn over the next 30 years.
‘The people of the West Midlands came up with a devolution deal which puts them in charge of driving growth and transforming local services,’ Sajiid Javid MP said.
‘Today’s £36.5m boost is proof that we will equip them with what they need to fire up the Midlands Engine - the ability to boost long-term growth, create jobs, improve skills and invest in transport and innovation.’
The combined authority, which signed the devolution deal in November 2015 and was created last June, will be chaired by a mayor who will be elected in May next year - despite rumours plans for directly-elected mayors would be axed.
WMCA chair, Cllr Bob Sleigh, said: ‘The West Midlands is the manufacturing heartland of the UK and a dynamic exporter of high quality goods and services but we believe there is much economic growth that remains untapped.
‘That’s why this payment marks the start of an exciting new era in which we will be far better equipped to build on our strengths, improve productivity and skills and deliver the transport infrastructure and new homes our region needs.
‘It gives us the tools to drive forward the Midlands Engine, helping to unlock growth, jobs and prosperity and ultimately a better quality of life for the four million people of the West Midlands.’
The announcement follows last week’s news of the creation of the West Midlands Housing Association Partnership, which represents housing associations with a total of 120,000 homes.
Together they add £600m to the regional economy annually and employ 18,500 people.