Plans to ‘reset, rebuild and recharge’ West Midlands submitted

Update for businesses on Saturday 27 June: add your support to the blueprint in this quick online form – a way to tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the West Midlands business community is behind the plans.  

West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has drawn up a blueprint for kickstarting economic recovery in the West Midlands and submitted it to central government.

WMCA drew up the document – ‘Recharge the West Midlands’ – in consultation with the region’s local enterprise partnerships, universities, political and business leaders, business groups, local authorities, trade unions and major employers such as Severn Trent, the NEC Group, Birmingham Airport and National Express.

It sets out a range of short-term actions designed to get the local economy back on its feet as quickly as possible after the coronavirus pandemic, but that will also support long-term recovery. The submission makes a case for investing £3.2bn in transport, housing and people over the next three years – building 35,000 new homes, creating or protecting over 135,000 jobs and ensuring that business in the West Midlands becomes more sustainable, green and inclusive.

West Midlands mayor Andy Street said: “The West Midlands economy was in good shape before the coronavirus pandemic first struck, and we need to do everything we can to get back on our feet quickly. We want to keep as many people in work as possible, and for those who fall out we want to create new jobs and offer digital retraining opportunities in sectors such as construction, automotive, and the creative industries.”

The West Midlands is the UK’s largest economy outside London, with a population of 4.2m people that generates £105bn a year. Support for the economic recovery of the region will significantly support the economic recovery of the whole country. The plan identifies three key business opportunities in the West Midlands:

  • Creating over 50,000 jobs in green manufacturing and low carbon initiatives;
  • Investing in healthcare innovation and research;
  • Accelerating investment in high profile projects such as HS2, Coventry City of Culture and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games to create jobs and boost tourism.

Councillor Ian Brookfield, West Midlands Combined Authority portfolio holder for economy and innovation and leader of City of Wolverhampton Council, said: “For our economy to recover quickly and thrive in the long-term, we need government to help us improve our infrastructure.”

It is hoped that the plans will help secure government funding ahead of July’s anticipated announcement of the next raft of economic measures to combat the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tim Pile, chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and a member of the steering group helping to create the blueprint, said: “This blueprint is a clear demonstration of the significant and distinctive opportunity we have in this region to accelerate economic recovery post COVID-19 and to come back even stronger. The West Midlands already makes a substantial contribution to the UK economy and will play a critical role in achieving a strong national recovery.”

Regional secretary for TUC Midlands Lee Barron, who has also signed the blueprint, added: “We cannot allow COVID-19 to scar generations with lost opportunities and unemployment. This powerful request, from all stakeholders, lays the foundations to build back better and to make sure we offer economic hope for the future.”

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