Up to an additional £66 million of Government funding has been awarded to the West Midlands in order to kick-start a series of ‘shovel ready’ schemes that can help drive the region’s post-Covid-19 recovery.
The money, from the Government’s Getting Building Fund, is in direct response to a list the region submitted two weeks ago of infrastructure schemes that can be underway within 18 months and get the local economy quickly moving again.
A separate £8m funding pot, which has also been confirmed by Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government, will be allocated to Warwickshire.
The list put forward by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, the Black Country LEP and the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP covered a wide range of schemes including new railway stations and other transport infrastructure, 5G, digital and technology-based projects, life sciences and urban renewal.
The WMCA will now work with the three LEPs to send a finalised list of schemes back to the Government.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “This latest announcement means the West Midlands has now received £150m of Government funding in the space of just three days as we look to re-boot our regional economy from the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Infrastructure investment is going to be key to our economy bouncing back quickly from this crisis, and this new £66m funding means we can now press ahead, and in some cases accelerate, a number of important infrastructure schemes for the region.”
The latest funding comes hot on the heels of the Prime Minister’s ‘New Deal’ announcement in Dudley on Tuesday, which included £84 million for the WMCA to unlock more derelict industrial land for housing.
Last week the region also submitted to Government a £3.2 billion blueprint to kickstart the West Midlands economy and create long-term prosperity for the region and wider UK.
Cllr Ian Brookfield, leader of City of Wolverhampton Council and WMCA portfolio holder for economy and innovation, said: “The impact of Covid-19 has been unimaginable and unprecedented.
“Before the pandemic struck, major regeneration projects were making good progress and we had a strong portfolio of schemes in the pipeline.
“It is critical to the region’s economic recovery that we bolster these projects financially - and get our ‘shovel ready’ schemes moving swiftly.
“This funding will help us to do that, also delivering much-needed jobs and attracting further investment.”
In awarding the funding, the Secretary of State said he was pleased by the number of innovative and deliverable projects put forward by the region.
He also asked for the Mayor to lead and coordinate discussions with the WMCA Board and the three LEP chairs to agree a single prioritised list of projects.
Tom Westley, chair of the Black Country LEP (BCLEP), said: “This funding from Government is welcomed across the West Midlands as our entire region looks towards economic recovery.
“Investment in our Black Country infrastructure is fundamental for economic growth, we look forward to working with our partners to create jobs, homes and an improved transport network.”
Nick Abell, interim chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), said: “We represent the interests of Coventry and Warwickshire and while we welcome the ring-fenced £8 million for Warwickshire, we will strongly be putting forward the case to Government for infrastructure projects for Coventry – knowing that together they will serve our area and its economic geography in the best way possible.”
Tim Pile, chair of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP (GBSLEP), said: “Confirmation of this funding for the region, in response to the huge challenges we are facing, is very positive news.
“This funding will immediately unlock projects ready to start in the next few months and provide an urgent stimulus to the economy, creating new job and new business opportunities which help accelerate our region’s recovery.
“We look forward to continuing our close collaboration with neighbouring LEPs and the WMCA to ensure the entire region receives maximum benefit from this welcome injection of funds.”