The West Midlands Economic Inclusion Panel will be officially launched in Birmingham on Friday when 23 leading figures from the region’s private, public and voluntary sector meet.
Economic inclusion is one of five key challenges identified in the West Midlands Economic Strategy “Connecting to Success” as priority areas for action to boost economic performance and add over £2,000 in wealth for every person.
It is a process aimed at overcoming the barriers that prevent people from participating in the workplace or excludes them from other elements of the economy such as access to financial services.
The new panel was established after feedback received by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands at its annual conferences in 2006 and 2007.
The RDA also conducted an extensive public consultation last year for “Connecting to Success.”
The region-wide panel will unite key partners who have an interest in economic inclusion or fund initiatives to tackle worklessness.
The five key economic challenges facing the region are skills, enterprise, innovation, transport and economic inclusion – in response Advantage West Midlands has been instrumental in establishing the Regional Skills Partnership, the West Midlands Enterprise Board, the Innovation Technology Council, the Regional Transport Board and the new Economic Inclusion Panel.
Mick Laverty, chief executive at Advantage West Midlands, said: “This initiative is not only a major step towards improving the lives of people suffering the effects of economic exclusion it will boost the competitiveness of the West Midlands.
“The West Midlands Economic Strategy launched in December 2007 identified the region has a £10 billion output gap, 20 per cent of which is the failure to use the talent and potential of people in the region.
“Advantage West Midlands is committed to tackling this challenge.
“Success can only be achieved if we work in partnership and the Economic Inclusion Panel will play an important role in aligning the strategy, vision, action and funding to ensure citizens have the chance to participate in economic success.”
Trudi Elliott, regional director of Government Office West Midlands and chair of the West Midlands Economic Inclusion Panel, said: “This is a major opportunity for partners to work together and identify gaps in provision and align resources.
“The region has an excellent track record of key partners working together to react to the big economic issues of the day.
“The MG Rover Task Force set up in 2005 saw key partners assemble and distribute a multi-million pound package of financial support, training and advice in the wake of the closure of Longbridge.
“We need to use the same streamlined and strategic approach in addressing economic exclusion.
“Partners are already involved in a variety of programmes and projects and one of the priorities for the new panel is to develop an evidence base on exclusion so we can measure progress.
“Working with the West Midlands Regional Observatory, the panel will be able to use a data-driven approach to map activity and identify gaps in provision and direct resource to where it will have the most impact.”
Liam Byrne MP, Minister for the West Midlands, said: “The West Midlands economy has never been stronger.
“But I want every single resident of our region given every chance to make the most of themselves.
“As long as parts of our region are behind the best, it is my job to make sure the work goes on.
“And I have to ensure that every penny of government investment is well spent delivering new jobs and new homes.
“The new Economic Inclusion Panel is an expression of our determination and ambition to see that job well done.
“We don’t have a moment to lose.”