Midlands Engine fuelled by Budget

March 17, 2016

More than £250million is to  fuel the ambitions of the ‘Midlands Engine for Growth’.
The Midlands Engine  is a regional partnership between business, local authorities, skills and training providers, universities, 11 Local Enterprise Partnerships, including the Marches LEP , community and voluntary groups, and others to promote greater collaboration, to grow the economy. By 2030 the initiative aims to create 300,000 extra jobs and add £34billion to the UK economy.
A Midlands Engine (ME) interim Board and Delivery Director are already in place, and work is under way to promote investment in the region and develop local firms access to finance through a ‘business bank’. The Midlands Engine Prospectus was officially launched by Business Secretary Sajid Javid MP, at Birmingham University in December (2015). And Mr Javid is set to lead an ME trade mission, featuring up to 50 representatives of Midlands’ businesses, to the USA and Canada next month (April).
The Marches 2016 Budget saw a number of funding ‘asks’ from the Midlands Engine answered by the Chancellor, including on:
Finance for business –

  • More than £250million agreed for a Midlands Engine Investment Fund – a ‘fund of funds’ investing in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – agreed between Government and the British Business Bank; and Midlands Engine partners, subject to final funding arrangements.

Transport –

  • Midlands Connect – the initiative already working to better integrate all transport networks across the region, and between those and other regions – will be put on a statutory footing by the end of 2018, to create a sub-national transport body for the region. Midlands Connect also received £5million in the July 2015 Budget. It is seen as vital in taking forward Midlands Engine ambitions.
  • Priority roads development work will include the continued development of the M1, between London through the Midlands and up to Yorkshire, into a smart motorway (through technological improvements.)
  • Further improvements will also be made to three major Midlands roads at the A46 Newark bypass and its A1 junction, by upgrading single carriageway on the A45 Stanwick to Thrapston, and upgrading the M42 and M5 around Birmingham to a four lane smart motorway.
  • Launch of a ‘Local Majors Fund’, enabling local areas to bid for funding for large local transport projects.

Local Enterprise Partnerships and Enterprise Zones –

  • Up to £1.8billion will be allocated nationally through a further round of Growth Deals with Local Enterprise Partnerships, including the 11 in the Midlands Engine area, later this year.
  • New Enterprise Zones proposed for Loughborough/Leicester, building on the area’s strengths in space science and research, and at Brierley Hill, Dudley.
  • Additionally Enterprise Zones in the Midlands Engine area will be able to offer enhanced capital allowances, for eight years from the establishment of relevant sites.

Innovation –

  • A Midlands-wide science and innovation audit, to map its research and innovation strengths, to identify areas of potential competitive advantage, will also be undertaken.
  • A £16million research and development fund, match-funded by industry, will support East Midlands’ aerospace. It includes £7million to help Rolls-Royce develop new high-temperature alloys in Derby.
  • The Midlands will also receive over £15million funding to support lower vehicle emissions technologies.

Commenting on today’s Budget 2016 announcements David Frost, Interim Chairman of the Midlands Engine Board, and Chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire LEP, said: “The Midlands Engine for Growth is a huge undertaking; a partnership seeking to grow the economy to improve life for the more than ten million people living in the region and boost UK business.
“The Chancellor’s support for our ambitions through today’s Budget announcements, particularly in the £250million Midlands Engine Investment Fund and confidence in Midlands Connect becoming a statutory body, show that we are already on the right track and that Government has faith in our long-term objectives.”
For more information about the Midlands Engine see web link www.gov.uk/government/news/midlands-engine-fired-up-to-drive-34-billion-worth-of-productivity-and-growth .
An online copy of the Midlands Engine Prospectus can be read at www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/482247/midlands-engine-for-growth.pdf

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The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership has now ceased trading and transferred all its functions to Shropshire Council working with Telford & Wrekin Council and Herefordshire Council, in line with the UK Government's plans for devolution.

The Marches LEP was established in 2011 and hands over an impressive legacy from its 13-year life. In that time the LEP invested over £196m in projects across the Marches, securing in excess of £100m of match funding and supported more than 66,000 business interactions.

The schemes supported have made tangible differences to local communities, increasing skills, creating jobs and improving the physical appearance of many towns.

We would like to thank all the LEP Board Members who have given their time freely over the life of the LEP, as well as all the staff who worked for the LEP over the years. We also want to thank our delivery partners, local education providers and local, regional and national stakeholders who helped us achieve so much.

The Marches Growth Hub will continue to support businesses and will be managed by Shropshire Council, supported by Telford and Wrekin and Herefordshire Councils. Each of the three Local Authorities will also continue to provide direct business support locally. Details of this support will be available through the Marches Growth Hub website and from the Local Authorities directly. Website: www.marchesgrowthhub.co.uk | email: enquiries@marchesgrowthhub.co.uk.

The Marches Careers Hub will continue to be delivered and will be managed by Shropshire Council, supported by Telford & Wrekin and Herefordshire Councils. Website: www.marchescareershub.co.uk | email: info@marchescareershub.co.uk

For any queries about Getting Building Fund (GBF), Local Growth Fund (LGF) and Marches Investment Fund (MIF) projects supported by the Marches LEP please contact: gary.spence@shropshire.gov.uk

For any finance queries please contact: michelle.hodgkiss@shropshire.gov.uk

The solvent liquidation of the Marches LEP is being managed by the Evelyn Partners Limited. For any matter related to this please contact: Camilla.Mulholland@evelyn.com

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