Continuing investment in region’s transport and housing confirmed as WMCA approves annual budget

A capital investment budget of more than £629m was approved by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) today to fund the continuing expansion of the region’s rail and tram network and to unlock more urban land for new jobs and homes.

At its meeting in Birmingham, the WMCA Board also approved an operational budget for the combined authority of £310.8m. This includes funding for concessionary travel for older people, the blind, disabled and children and an Adult Education Budget of £128.5m aimed at delivering more benefits for both businesses and communities.

In presenting the proposed 2020/21 budget, Cllr Bob Sleigh, the WMCA’s portfolio holder for finance and investment, said that despite inflation and other cost pressures on its revenue budget, the authority had been able to protect and confirm delivery of all activities and policies at no additional cost to local taxpayers or councils.

The budget will also see the Mayoral Office fully funded for the coming financial year without the need for local contributions. The £800,000 cost will be covered by a Government grant.

The budget report also noted that the Mayor of the West Midlands had indicated there would be no mayoral precept during the remainder of his current term in office.

The approved capital expenditure budget, funded mostly by project specific grants or borrowing, includes:

  • £307m for Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) to fund the design and construction of new tram routes, Sprint networks and local rail stations
  • £95.5m for housing and land including funding to unlock former industrial land (brownfield) for new homes and jobs, deliver more affordable housing and support the renewal and revitalisation of town centres and high streets
  • £226.8m in capital grants to local authorities including significant investment in Coventry (Station Masterplan, City Centre Remediation), Solihull (UK Central Programme), the Commonwealth Games, and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre

The 2020/21 revenue budget of £310.8m includes:

  • £114.7m for transport delivery including £10.6m for subsidised bus services, £6.6m for Ring and Ride, £1.4m to enhance transport for the Commonwealth Games and £63.4m for concessionary travel
  • £135m for productivity and skills, including an Adult Education Budget of £128.5m and funding for other careers support and the acceleration of apprenticeships
  • An additional £7.5m from an uplift in business rates generated by a growing West Midlands economy

The final budget put before the Board today was largely unchanged from the initial draft budget reported to the Board meeting in January and subsequently opened up for review and comment.

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