WMCA secures £66m funding for ‘shovel ready’ schemes to drive economic recovery

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Up to an additional £66m of Government funding has been awarded to the West Midlands in order to kick-start a series of ‘shovel ready’ schemes that can help drive the region’s post-COVID-19 recovery.

The money, from the Government’s Getting Building Fund, is in direct response to a list the region submitted two weeks ago of infrastructure schemes that can be underway within 18 months and get the local economy quickly moving again.

A separate £8m funding pot, which has also been confirmed by Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government, will be allocated to Warwickshire.

The list put forward by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, the Black Country LEP and the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP covered a wide range of schemes including new railway stations and other transport infrastructure, 5G, digital and technology-based projects, life sciences and urban renewal.

The WMCA will now work with the three LEPs to send a finalised list of schemes back to the Government.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “This latest announcement means the West Midlands has now received £150m of Government funding in the space of just three days as we look to re-boot our regional economy from the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Infrastructure investment is going to be key to our economy bouncing back quickly from this crisis, and this new £66m funding means we can now press ahead, and in some cases accelerate, a number of important infrastructure schemes for the region.”

The latest funding comes hot on the heels of the Prime Minister’s ‘New Deal’ announcement in Dudley on Tuesday, which included £84m for the WMCA to unlock more derelict industrial land for housing.

Last week the region also submitted to Government a £3.2bn blueprint to kickstart the West Midlands economy and create long-term prosperity for the region and wider UK.

Cllr Ian Brookfield, leader of City of Wolverhampton Council and WMCA portfolio holder for economy and innovation, said: “The impact of COVID-19 has been unimaginable and unprecedented. Before the pandemic struck, major regeneration projects were making good progress and we had a strong portfolio of schemes in the pipeline.

“It is critical to the region’s economic recovery that we bolster these projects financially – and get our ‘shovel ready’ schemes moving swiftly. This funding will help us to do that, also delivering much-needed jobs and attracting further investment.”