The West Midlands could receive more than £1.2 billion of investment following the Comprehensive Spending Review delivered by the Chancellor.
Calculations by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) suggest the region is in line for significant funding, including money for public transport, housebuilding, and re-training. This is on top of the £55bn earmarked nationally by Government to help tackle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The single biggest sum of money will come through the five-year intra-city transport settlement, which will see an estimated £800m come to the West Midlands to be spent on public transport projects.
This is the single largest devolved pot of money the region will have received since the formation of the WMCA. Critically the Government has announced a start date of 2022 for the fund, allowing Transport for West Midlands to work closely with councils to start planning and allocating funding.
Other funds set to provide a significant cash injection into the region are the £4bn levelling-up fund, the £2.2bn National Home Building Fund, and the £2.8bn restart scheme. It is estimated the region will receive around £450m from these national funds.
There was also a major boost to the region’s quest for a Gigafactory in yesterday’s announcement, with the Chancellor confirming that he is making £500m available over the next four years for battery production on a mass scale and for electric vehicle supply chains.
The move has been welcomed by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, who has been spearheading the region’s campaign to secure the UK’s first Gigafactory.
The Mayor said: “I am hoping we will receive around £250m from this new battery fund, which is a significant step forward in the region’s quest for the UK’s first Gigafactory. We always knew we would need a public subsidy to make a Gigafactory happen, and the Government has now put this cash on the table. Our team will work like lightning to ensure we secure the share of the cash we need, allowing us to press ahead with our ambitious plans.
“The Gigafactory is critical as it is the future of our automotive industry here in the West Midlands, helping to create and protect tens of thousands of jobs - but it was not the only thing of note from the Chancellor in his spending review.
“The estimated £800m we will receive from the intra-city transport settlement is the single biggest pot of devolved cash we will have ever been given in my time as Mayor and shows serious confidence in our public transport plans.
“There was also cash for helping people back into work and for housebuilding, and my calculations suggest the West Midlands could be in line for around £1.2bn from the treasury.”
Prof. David Greenwood, CEO of WMG centre HVM Catapult, added: “The West Midlands is at the heart of the UK’s car industry, and as that industry moves to electric over the next decade it is critical that we secure the high value supply chains it will need.
“Battery manufacturing in particular will be critical to the UK, so we welcome the Government’s commitment of up to £500M to support this, and the recognition of the role of the West Midlands in delivering it.”
New spending on health and care announced by the Chancellor will bolster commitments made by the WMCA and its regional health partners to tackle the long-term challenges to the health of the region as set out in the recent Health of the Region report.
New funding for schools, local authorities, and digital infrastructure will also be essential in supporting a community recovery across the region.
Throughout the Covid crisis the West Midlands has worked together to identify the specific challenges facing the region.
In June the region outlined to Government what action was needed to stimulate the West Midlands economy in the short term and what building blocks were needed to support a long-term sustainable recovery that was both green and more inclusive.
Key requirements set out in the Recharge the West Midlands: Kickstarting the West Midlands Economy blueprint included the construction of better transport and digital links, the regeneration of more brownfield sites with good quality, affordable homes, and the need to get people back into work quickly by equipping them with the skills needed for the future.
The Government has already funded a number of proposals set out in the region’s Recharge blueprint, and yesterday’s Comprehensive Spending Review allocates further money on a national scale to tackle many of the challenges identified locally.
The region will now be required to submit bids into the various funding streams announced by the Chancellor.
The West Midlands believes that the detailed work carried out in putting together a strong pipeline of interventions and infrastructure projects for the recharge blueprint means the region can move quickly in its submissions for a proportionate share of the funding.