business

Region bids for £210m funding for next year

Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP is bidding for that funding next year and a total of £561 million of public money over the next five years towards 94 projects

Steve Hollis

A bid is being submitted to bolster the city’s local enterprise partnership by as much as £210 million next year as it seeks to get dozens of key schemes off the ground.

Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP is bidding for that funding next year and a total of £561 million of public money over the next five years towards 94 projects.

The Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) submitted to government – under a process which sees the various LEPs compete for funding – would be a major boost for the LEP, giving it funding comparable with the area’s previous regional development agency, Advantage West Midlands.

LEP deputy chair Steve Hollis said the proposals aimed to lever as much as £10 billion worth of public and private spending in the next seven years, on key schemes like Curzon Street Station and the UK Central scheme around the M42 corridor. The plan would also herald a new age of devolved authority in the region, with the LEP receiving funding from new business rates created by key schemes.

Mr Hollis told the Post: “The LEP basically started with a balance sheet with nothing on it and what we have had to do is prove ourselves and demonstrate now we can connect and bring stakeholders together, and build trust locally and with the Government.

“The plan is quite simple,” he added. “The big picture is we want to be more accountable for the plans that we are involved with delivering.

“As we mature we want greater devolution and to share the benefits that are generated, not just hand them over.

“This is about reinvigorating a vibrant regional economy to become much more self-sufficent, with a lot more collaboration with our neighbours like the Black Country and Coventry and Warwickshire.”

The SEP bid for funds from the Local Growth Fund aims to generate a 10-year boost to the region’s economy of £3.3 billion.

The LEP says it stands to create 37,500 jobs over 10 years, if the plans are fully funded.

The SEP bid is part of plans for the region to become a net contributor to the Exchequer, and Mr Hollis said devolution of authority was key.

For example, it would see the region directly tied to the success of the Curzon Street development, revealed in the Post last week, with uplift in business rates and land value being returned.

Mr Hollis said while it was not possible to quantify the value of Curzon Street work, the wider proposals would lever major investment.

He said: “We are working with the figures at the moment but it is going to be in the billions. It is largely from the private sector and inward investment, but the public sector has a role to play in providing the land and so on.

“We are into a new phase of having more personal involvement in these plans, and we need to be looking at £10 billion over the next seven years,” he added.

The SEP bid seeks help towards the city’s core aims of growing in advanced manufacturing, life sciences, creative and digital. Among the other proposals are an Advanced Manufacturing and Recruitment Agency – £5 million funding towards a wider £10 million scheme to help both the private and further education sectors with apprenticeships and traineeships in advanced manufacturing.

The LEP also wants to see progress for GBS Finance, an investment fund of £1.5 billion that will manage, invest, recycle and leverage a number of public and private sector funding streams to deliver local infrastructure projects whilst becoming a model for sustainable funding and growth.

Mr Hollis said: “GBS Finance is about pulling together the various funding streams that come out of Whitehall.

“At the moment it drips through from various departments.

“We are saying bring together as many of these sources of funding as possible under one umbrella we can look to maximise the money.”

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