London: Jobs, skills, transport, science, and quality of life are at the heart of the six-point long term economic plan to make the Midlands the Engine for Growth in the UK, announced last week by British Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.
British Prime Minister and Chancellor have set out their six-point long term economic plan for the Midlands showing what has been delivered, what is underway and what more can be done to make the Midlands an engine for growth.
In a speech at Bombardier in Derby, the pair (British Prime Minister and Chancellor) set out the detailed plan as part of a two day tour of the region last week.
The plan aims to:
- raise the long term growth rate of the Midlands to at least the forecast long term growth rate of the whole UK – adding an extra £34 billion to the Midlands economy in real terms by 2030, equivalent to over £3,000 per person
- create 300,000 extra jobs in the Midlands by backing the core strengths of the local economy like advanced manufacturing and engineering
- put skills at the heart of the economic revival of the Midlands, working with local businesses and the Local Enterprise Partnership on a radical new matching service for local working people and increasing skilled apprenticeships. The government is devolving power over skills, which is currently centred in Whitehall, to the Local Authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships in the Midlands, on the condition that different areas combine together to produce a strong joint plan.
- deliver £5.2 billion of investment into new transport infrastructure in the Midlands, upgrading the motorways to four lanes, delivering faster north-south rail connections and east-west links, and make the most of the economic opportunities of HS2
- back science and innovation in the Midlands, focussing on the plan for local universities to develop an Energy Research Accelerator and support new technology in the world-leading automotive sector
- improve the quality of life in the Midlands by regenerating run-down estates, investing in the county towns, supporting the construction of 30,000 new homes and making improvements to local education so 150,000 more pupils attend outstanding schools. Government will also support events to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, along with the engineering and military history of the region.
There are no quick fixes to achieving these important goals, so the British Prime Minister and Chancellor are also setting out a specific timetable to deliver the key concepts of this plan over the five years of the next parliament, and the following decade. As important next steps in the making the Midlands an Engine for Growth, the pair announced a number of new measures to improve skills, transport links, invest in the science, innovation, and energy, and improve quality of life:
- improve skills with a new four point plan including agreement in principle to devolve skills spending to Combined Authorities in the Midlands as and when they are formed
- develop a new approach to matching people with job opportunities with Andy Street, Chief Executive of John Lewis and Chair of the Birmingham and Solihull LEP, working with businesses to match workers with apprenticeships, training opportunities and skilled job, supported by 100 new job coaches
support the development of a major new university in Hereford – the Chancellor has asked Universities Minister Greg Clark to work with the Hereford team.
- invest £5.2bn to create a modern, interconnected transport network for the UK centred on the Midlands by starting work to upgrade the M1 and M5 to four lanes in summer 2015, and develop the case for electrifying the main rail lines between Bristol and Birmingham and Derby and Birmingham. The Chancellor will also back plans for a High Speed Rail Investment Summit in Birmingham
- build on the Midlands’ world-leading scientific and engineering capability by inviting local leaders, universities and businesses to work together on building a strong case for new science investment in the Midlands, including looking at proposals for a new national hub for energy research
capitalise the Midlands’ strong heritage in the automotive sector by announcing the expansion of the MIRA enterprise zone in Nuneaton, the UK’s largest Automotive Technology Park
- create four new Food Enterprise Zones in the Midlands in 2015, which will provide a boost to the food supply chain industry and create hubs across the region to attract food and farming businesses
- improve quality of life across the region by supporting the construction of up to 30,000 new homes and improve educational outcomes so that over 150,000 more pupils attend outstanding schools. The Department for Communities and Local Government will also work the Treasury to look at how best we can kick-start estate regeneration in the Midlands.
- celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 2016 by supporting the transformation of Shakespeare’s last house New Place into an exciting, innovative and inspiring heritage site. Alongside this, the Royal Mint will mark the anniversary with a new commemorative coin. Finally, the government will recognise the region’s engineering and military history by supporting a memorial for the first tank which was designed and built in Lincoln.
We are building a more resilient economy to benefit hard working people across the Midlands, from its great cities to the stunning countryside of the Derbyshire Dales. We are already seeing more jobs and greater growth in the region, but we want to see more. That’s what our long term economic plan will do – it will help the region build on its success and create new opportunities through massive investment in infrastructure and housing.–British Prime Minister, David Cameron