The new West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has just received a multi-million pound cash boost to invest directly in the future of the region. Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has transferred £36.5m from Treasury resources to the WMCA as part of its agreed new devolution deal.
The WMCA is a coalition of seven local authorities and three Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) working together to move powers from Whitehall to the West Midlands and its locally elected politicians.
The local authorities are:
• Birmingham City Council
• City of Wolverhampton Council
• Coventry City Council
• Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council
• Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
• Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council
• Walsall Council
The aim of the WMCA is to create jobs, enhance skills, and develop prosperity and economic growth in the region. The devolution deal, signed in November last year, includes the handing down of powers and money from central government (Whitehall) to the combined local authorities so they can make decisions and spend money for the benefit of the region as they see fit.
Devolution gives local people a direct say over issues including transport and encouraging business innovation. The new combined authority was created in June and is set to be chaired by the region’s first ever directly-elected mayor, with elections set to take place in May 2017.
The recent funding is the first payment of what is expected to be a total of £1.1bn over the next 30 years. Whitehall has no control over how the money is spent as decisions will be made locally by the WMCA.
According to the WMCA website WMCA chair, Councilor Bob Sleigh, said:
“The West Midlands is the manufacturing heartland of the UK and a dynamic exporter of high quality goods and services but we believe there is much economic growth that remains untapped.
“That’s why this payment marks the start of an exciting new era in which we will be far better equipped to build on our strengths, improve productivity and skills and deliver the transport infrastructure and new homes our region needs.
“It gives us the tools to drive forward the Midlands Engine, helping to unlock growth, jobs and prosperity and ultimately a better quality of life for the four million people of the West Midlands.”