£86 million boost for the region to create 5,000 new jobs

WOE LEPIt has been announced that £86.2 million of new Government money will be coming to the West of England from 2015.

This money is part of the Local Growth Deal, which will be overseen by the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (WE LEP).

It has been awarded following the submission of the Strategic Economic Plan to the Government in March 2014, alongside plans from the other 38 LEPs from around the country.

The comprehensive growth plan took over six months to develop in partnership with the West of England’s four local councils, universities and colleges and over 800 local businesses.

It will be used to accelerate economic growth and create 5,000 new jobs.

This initial allocation of money has been awarded to deliver a number of key projects.

These include: world-leading next generation broadband; a specialist robotics institute of technology; a dedicated ‘growth hub’ to provide small businesses with access to all the advice and support they need to grow; and a raft of new or modernised and extended colleges that will provide a much-needed boost to skills and training.

These colleges will ensure local people have access to the skills they need for future jobs in nuclear, advanced engineering, creative, high tech and other key growing industries in the region.

This funding is in addition to the previously committed £126.4 million for the MetroBus and MetroWest transport schemes, which the Government has also included in the overall allocation from its Local Growth Fund, bringing the West of England’s initial funding for growth to £213 million.

This will also unlock an additional £185 million of investment from private sector and local delivery partners, creating an investment package totalling £400 million for the West of England LEP area.

Colin Skellett, chair of the West of England LEP, comments: “Government has told us we have a strong and ambitious long-term strategic economic plan and we welcome this first instalment of funding for a number of our key projects.

“But this is just the first round, so now our discussions begin on the next round, where we will be pushing hard to fund our other key projects.

“We also expect to have some flexibility on how we spend the current allocation, to enable us to begin to bring other projects forward. Our plan set out an ambitious programme of major projects for the region.

“We are committed to the plan and delivering those projects, whether using Government money or funding from other sources.”

This phase of the West of England Growth Deal will deliver around 5,000 jobs, 1,300 new learners undertaking skills training and over 230 new apprenticeships over a period of six years from 2015-2021.