Chancellor George Osborne heralded historic devolution deals, including the biggest in the country for the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), in his Spending Review today (25 November).
His report highlighted the government's £1bn of investment in to the region that will support an overall investment package worth £8bn, as well as the devolution of powers over adult skills,employment and transport.
The Chancellor's report also referenced the government's support for the Curzon Street Enterprise Zone extension in order to help deliver the ambition of the HS2 Growth Strategy, as well as the funding of the Eastside Metro extension to Digbeth, subject to a business case.
Building on the government's £5 million commitment to Midlands Connect in the summer budget, the government is now committed to working with the WMCA and the East and West Midlands region more widely to develop a long term transport strategy for the region, through the creation of a new Midlands Connect Strategic Board. The members will include the Department for Transport (DfT), Highways England, Network Rail, HS2 Ltd, local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships.
The Chancellor also committed £5 million for a Midlands Engine Trade and Investment Plan, to market the world-leading strengths of the Midlands overseas, including an integrated events and trade missions programme, new specialist advisers, as well as a new resource to support inward investment.
Councillor Bob Sleigh, Chair of the WMCA Shadow Board, said:
“Following fast on the heels of last week’s proposed devolution agreement, I am encouraged that the Chancellor made firm on his commitments to the West Midlands in his Spending Review today.
“We know that our devolved powers for administering the adult skills budget as well as our £200m land remediation fund that will provide land for new homes and our ambitious HS2 growth strategy, will go a significant and important way to drive growth locally and re-balance the UK economy.”
Bob Sleigh, Councillor