Special Feature: The Role of Partnerships
The West Midlands Combined Authority is founded on ‘partnership’ — the seven metropolitan districts of the West Midlands collaborating to attract enhanced powers from central government to achieve better outcomes for the region.
In turn, the Combined Authority bridges between its partners in central government and its local authority colleagues, to ensure those powers are most effectively deployed.
It’s also the foundation of government’s proposed Trailblazer Devolution Deal approach – deepening devolution to maximise the collaborative partnerships at all levels of government and across an even wider set of actors.
Through our Combined Authority Board, we’re able to tackle the challenges and opportunities facing our diverse communities in the West Midlands. And our non-Constituent Authority partners provide invaluable input on cross-boundary issues, generating benefit across the wider region. This has underpinned rapid economic growth, an expanding transport network, and pioneering work to address social and cultural inequalities.
The way we’ve managed the development of our proposals has maximised those relationships. It’s ensured that further devolution meets both government’s levelling up missions, as well as the region’s own strategic aims which have always sought to ‘Level Up’ – ensuring equality of opportunity, prosperity and wellbeing. By engaging with local government partners, both constituent and non-constituent authorities, our local MPs, and other government agencies, we have demonstrated to Whitehall officials and ministers that our proposals are relevant, deliverable, and supported.
Our local businesses are crucial to the success of the region – economically, socially, and environmentally – and equally so to the success of our levelling up agenda. Whether it’s through intermediaries, such as chambers of commerce and other membership organisations, or through structures established by the Mayor and Combined Authority, such as the Regional Business Council and Economic Impact Group, our business community has supported the development of our proposals.
This is not only important in ensuring the detail of the deal is informed by real-world economic pressures and opportunities, but it also establishes powerful routes for the delivery of projects and outcomes generated by the deal itself.
We’ll struggle to deliver levelling up effectively if the region’s economy is struggling, and employers can play such a big role in achieving the levelling up missions themselves — from workplace wellbeing to creating pride in place. This means our business community will continue to provide a powerful and crucial voice in our trailblazing deal.
"As the Regional Business Council in the West Midlands, we are strongly supportive of the Government’s levelling up agenda and trailblazing devolution deal approach – these will create tremendous opportunities it offers for our economy, businesses, and communities." - Liv Garfield, Chair of the WM Regional Business Council
Innovation, Skills & Universities
Trailblazing should be lighting a path for others to follow — finding new ways to deliver against existing challenges and building a more positive future for the region. Our local schools and colleges have been vital partners of the region’s success, consistently preparing our young people for the world and helping our adult learning community. This has drawn attention of national government, with the West Midlands recognised for its ability to meet the targets of its wide-ranging skills programmes.
Although the West Midlands region has, effectively, already embarked on an agenda of levelling up for many years now – tackling disparities within the region and between the West Midlands and other regions – innovation will be a vital catalyst to the levelling up missions of government.
Our university partners have already been a key part of the region’s success and will be integral to ensuring our devolution proposals can be delivered. Whether that’s through the development of new technologies, the research to underpin the region’s strategic thinking, or through inspiring the next generation of innovators to develop the solutions to regional, and indeed, global, challenges.
Levelling up can only be achieved through all our communities realising their potential and through genuine partnership: enabling every partner to bring their own influence, voice, powers and resources to bear in a shared endeavour.
Our devolution proposals seek to enhance those local and regional powers to ensure that each partner in that joint venture realises the benefits and outcomes for their respective communities.