WMCA welcomes Midlands Engine Strategy announcement by Chancellor Philip Hammond

The Government’s launch of the Midlands Engine Strategy has been welcomed by West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

A total of £392 million will be allocated to the region to be spent on areas such as transport, skills and training, and enterprise and innovation, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in Dudley today (09 March).

WMCA chair Cllr Bob Sleigh said the unveiling of the Midlands Engine was a key milestone on the road to delivering greater prosperity through the WMCA’s own strategic economic plan (SEP) Making Our Mark.

He said: “The SEP is our plan to deliver greater jobs and prosperity to this region and the announcement of the midland engine strategy gives us the tools to do the job.

“The wider Midlands region is currently worth £217 billion to the UK economy and with the announcement of this strategy there will now be major opportunities for us to build on this base over the next few years.

“The WMCA will soon have a directly-elected mayor able to use powers over skills, transport and planning to drive local growth while HS2 will place the Midlands at the heart of England’s high speed rail network, making it an even more attractive place for people to live and work, and for companies to do business.”

The Midlands Engine strategy will see a range of initiatives introduced, including:

  • £25m to tackle congestion to major employment sites in the Black Country
  • £12m to unlock commercial and housing developments in Coventry and Warwickshire
  • £250,000 to the WMCA’s Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) arm to support development of a new Integrated Command Hub to support co-ordination between the different agencies managing the local transport network
  • £7m to pilot innovative approaches to supporting employers to help employees with mental health issues, following the findings of the recent West Midlands Mental Health Commission
  • £11 million to provide additional Work Coaches, in order to deliver targeted employment support to unemployed people across the West Midlands Combined Authority

Cllr Roger Lawrence, WMCA lead member for transport, said it had hosted the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) in Birmingham in January where it stressed the importance of tackling congestion and network resilience.

He said: “Initiatives such as the integrated command hub to combat congestion and ensure the network is able to cope is something WMCA and TfWM has been calling for and shows the Government is listening to what we have to say.”

The Chancellor’s announcement coincided with the launch today of the Midlands Connect strategy setting out the transport infrastructure needed to power the Midlands Engine.

Midlands Connect Strategy: Powering the Midlands Engine is a long-term investment programme to drive forward road and rail projects that can unlock billions of pounds of untapped economic growth and speed up journeys across the region.

Midlands Connect is a partnership of councils and local enterprise partnerships across the East and West Midlands, Network Rail, Highways England, HS2 Ltd, and the wider business community.

The Department for Transport is an associate member.

Commenting on the launch of the Midlands Connect strategy, Sir John Peace, chair of both Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine, said: “We sit at the heart of the UJK’s transport network.

“Investment in this region’s transport will have a remarkable benefit to the whole country and create a positive ripple effect to boost the development of industry, skills and infrastructure.

“This strategy will help to secure the further infrastructure funding needed to lay the groundwork for improved connectivity across the Midlands, bringing the east and west closer together and opening the region’s businesses to the world.”

The Midlands Engine Strategy can be read in full here

There are big wins for the West Midlands in the Midlands Engine Strategy announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond.

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