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Andy Street's Combined Authority to give £88million to support West Mids businesses & communities
Local businesses and communities across the region are to get more than £88m of targeted support to help drive economic growth and improve people’s opportunities in life.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), led by Conservative Mayor Andy Street, approved its UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) investment plan on Friday, which will trigger the Government’s release of the money to the region over the next three years.
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The Board agreed that £42m of the funding should be targeted at helping local businesses with the remainder of the money passed directly to the region’s seven metropolitan authorities – Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton.
The councils will use that funding for community and neighbourhood infrastructure work, including new green open spaces and to support community groups to help level up and build local pride of place.
The business support funding will see expert advisers deployed at a local level across the region to directly help firms become more competitive and resilient in response to the increasing cost of doing business.
More than half the £42m allocated for business support will be used to deliver specialist programmes that help firms decarbonise their operations, boost productivity and secure additional investment to grow their businesses going forward.
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Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and Chair of the WMCA, said:
“These are undoubtedly tough times for our region – we’re battling back post Covid, but we now face cost of living pressures as global supply chain disruption, rising energy costs and the conflict in Ukraine contribute to the economic uncertainty.
“At this challenging time, it’s critical we allocate this very welcome new UKSPF money in a way that delivers for local people, places and businesses. Pre-pandemic, we were the fastest growing region outside of London and we can regain ground by taking the right action.
“Whilst this latest funding is good news, we will continue to lobby Government for additional powers and money – including the agreement of a new Trailblazer Devolution Deal. This is essential if we want to effectively tackle local issues – whether it’s connecting young people to high quality jobs, addressing health inequalities, or building more affordable homes on regenerated brownfield sites. Together, we can change lives for the better here in the West Midlands.”
The UKSPF is a central pillar of the Government’s Levelling Up agenda and is designed to replace the funding that would have been received from the EU. Its primary goal is to build pride in place and increase life chances across the UK, with three key investment priorities around ‘Community and Place’, ‘Supporting Local Business’, and ‘People and Skills’.
The specialist business programmes to be funded from the region’s UKSPF allocation will complement existing local and regional business support services as well as helping to deliver key aspects of the region’s Plan for Growth.
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