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West Midlands Levelling Up Growth Prospectus

Industrial Decarbonisation

The Challenge

The West Midlands is home to more established mid-sized manufacturing businesses than any other UK region. Our 16,000 energy-exposed companies are the bedrock of the regional economy and critical to national supply chains, employing almost 300,000 people and contributing £22bn in GVA a year. 

The combination of the global energy crisis and the transition to net zero threatens not only their existence, but that of many strategic national supply chains in which they form critical links. These businesses are the engines of national economic growth, but they are extremely difficult to replace once lost, and are now being driven offshore. 

Our challenge is to support these businesses through an industrial transition so they can continue to support economic growth while reconfiguring and relocating within the UK, protecting jobs and GVA not only in the West Midlands, but across the UK.

The Prize

We will transform the traditional manufacturing base of our region into a modern, creative advanced manufacturing economy, retaining skilled jobs in the region and country, and supporting accelerated economic growth, at least 20,000 new jobs, and delivery of an additional £16 billion of GVA. 

Established and strategic energy-intense businesses which are no longer viable in a zero-carbon, energy-constrained region will be retained for the UK through targeted regeneration and relocation initiatives, reducing carbon emissions and avoiding further leakage of jobs and wealth to competing national economies.

Progress So Far…

The Repowering the Black Country programme brings together representatives from over 3000 energy-exposed companies and is working as part of the national industrial decarbonisation programme, focusing on dispersed sites.

The partnership has identified measures that companies could realistically adopt to reduce their energy reliance and increase their energy resilience. The findings from this have underpinned these proposals – ensuring they are relevant, impactful, and deliverable. They also clearly demonstrated the extensive economic impacts that the region faces if these challenges are not addressed.

The Mayor of the West Midlands has also established an Industrial Energy Taskforce, bringing multiple stakeholders to identify and scope new initiatives that might further contribute to the industrial decarbonisation agenda.

Levelling Up Mission:

By 2030, pay, employment and productivity will have risen in every area of the UK, with each containing a globally competitive city, and the gap between the top performing and other areas closing.

Our Proposal

Devolve control over £30m of energy efficiency funding support for industry to the region, enabling more effective and efficient targeting.

Establish a new West Midlands IndustrialTransition Company in partnership with strategic manufacturers to take forward the recommendations of the Mayor’s IndustrialEnergy Taskforce and Repowering the BlackCountry across the whole region.

Give the Mayor and WMCA the power to designate and manage Zero Carbon IndustrialHubs to offer attractive environments and infrastructure for modern clean manufacturing and inward investors.

What We Hope to Achieve

Boosting The Economy

As well as reducing energy costs and helping businesses transition, we want to release brownfield land for housing, so a combination of hubs and support programmes for businesses to move to locations is key. Industrial hubs will include business models and special vehicles offering local authorities opportunities to participate and secure revenue streams. 

Delivery mechanisms will be local authority-led, and only supported by regional capacity or resources where this makes economic sense. At least eight potential hubs across the region are already under development (six in the Black Country). The aim is for this to be a pilot scheme which can be rolled out nationally, creating a model for industrial decarbonisation suitable for inland industrial regions and SMEs.

"West Midlands’ industry is an unique national asset, and spiralling energy costs and the imperative to transition to net zero mean we need to accelerate our drive for economic renaissance across the region." - Matthew Rhodes, Chair, West Midlands Industrial Energy Taskforce