The Midlands is set to get super-fast “5G” mobile services as part of an ambitious £392 million Government project to provide a huge boost to the region’s economy.
There will be £10 million for an extension to Birmingham Symphony Hall in the city centre, and support for a £250 million scheme to help small businesses.
Up to £10 million will be used to improve University Station in Edgbaston, to reduce overcrowding, and £25 million will be spent to cut traffic congestion and improve roads in the Black Country.
Government Ministers will also join Midlands businesses on a series of visits across the globe, to help them sign deals and win investment in countries such as China, India and Qatar.
An official art collection, currently housed in Government buildings. could be moved to Birmingham, to create a major new tourist attraction and bring more visitors to the city.
A “smart ticket” scheme will operate on local rail services by 2018, with a goal of later extending it to other local transport services.
And the Government will provide £20 million to improve skills in the region, including £2 million in English-language courses for people whose English is poor.
These measures and more are part of the Government’s Midlands Engine Strategy, launched today by Chancellor Philip Hammond and led by Sajid Javid, the Local Government Secretary and MP for Bromsgrove in Worcestershire.
The Midland Engine is a project to create jobs and economic growth in the East Midlands and the West Midlands. The Government argues that both regions will be more successful if they work closely together, and the funding includes schemes in the East Midlands such as the £11 million regeneration of Derby City Centre.
Chancellor Philip Hammond said: “The Midlands has enormous economic potential and as we lay the foundations of a stronger, fairer Britain outside the EU it is more important than ever that we now build on its existing strengths to make sure it fulfils it.
“The Midlands Engine Strategy is an important milestone, setting out the concrete actions we are taking, where we are not only investing in what it does well but also tackling some of the long standing productivity barriers in the region including skills and connectivity.
“It is a vital part of the government’s work to create an economy that works for everyone, and all parts of the country.”
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Backed by millions in investment, this new strategy will help create more jobs and boost skills in the region. It will also showcase to investors here and abroad everything the Midlands Engine has to offer.”
Top businessman Sir John Peace, Chairman of Burberry, chairs the Midlands Engine project on behalf of the Government. He said: “All parts of the Midlands already do a great job energising growth, creating jobs, investing in infrastructure, helping people to acquire valuable skills, and promoting their particular assets to attract investment and visitors.
“This strategy represents a clear footprint for the Midlands Engine empowering us to think bigger, and work even closer together, across local economies and on a scale that makes sense in global markets.”
Midlands Engine announcements include:
- Ensuring all rail passengers in the Midlands can use a smart ticket on local rail services by the end of 2018
- £25 million investment in the Black Country to tackle congestion and reduce journey times on key routes.
- Up to £10 million to improve University Station in Birmingham, to enhance passenger experience and reduce overcrowding.
- £11 million over two years for new “Work Coaches” who help unemployed people, for example with interview training
- Providing £7 million to test ways of helping employers to help their staff with mental health issues.
- Supporting the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, which will provide over £250 million to over 1,400 smaller businesses and create approximately 3,800 jobs in the Midlands.
- A new £8 million teaching university in Hereford to train engineers
- £11 million to support skills in Coventry and Warwickshire, including a new Apprenticeship Academy at Warwick University
- Up to £7 million for a facility to develop low-carbon technologies at Tyseley Energy Park, in Birmingham.
- Inviting the region to be a “5G testbed” where the new mobile technology is trialled.
- Trade missions to promote the Midlands across the world, form Germany to the Gulf, and from Eastern Europe to China.
- £12 million to develop a new garden city in the Black Country, providing new housing.
- Considering whether the Government Art Collection could be housed in Birmingham.
- Funding towards the £10 million extension of the Birmingham Symphony Hall.