Lord Heseltine presents vision for accelerated regional economic growth in Greater Birmingham
A report has been presented to the Chancellor showcasing how the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership would accelerate growth in the city region by using powers outlined in Lord Heseltine’s document ‘No Stone Unturned’.
‘The Greater Birmingham Project: The Path To Local Growth’ is the result of work by Lord Heseltine and stakeholders across the city region.
It was commissioned by the Prime Minister following Lord Heseltine’s earlier report published last October. Work started in January and the report is being presented in advance of the Chancellor’s expected response to ‘No Stone Unturned’.
The report highlights the opportunities provided by Government devolving a substantial ‘Single Pot’ of funding.
Lord Heseltine said: “In the time I have been working on the Greater Birmingham Project I have been impressed with the energy and determination of partners right across the city region, as well as their opportunism in coming forward to work with me on developing the ideas contained in ‘No Stone Unturned’.
“That report was based on the concept of bidding for a Single Pot of central money, an idea which was welcomed by the Chancellor, who committed the Government to the devolution of a greater proportion of growth-related spending to local areas from April 2015.
“The ideas identified in this new report show that Greater Birmingham has the vision, the determination and, I believe, the basis of corporate governance essential for the Single Pot to work.
“The report illustrates the extraordinary opportunities and latent strengths of the GBSLEP economy.
“Now it is important that Government clarify its position as far as the Single Pot is concerned – I hope this report provides further reassurance to the Chancellor that this approach is one that can unlock the potential of the regions and bring about a step-change in the performance of the UK economy.”
The report also introduces the concept of a Supervisory Board of the nine elected local authority leaders which would provide clear political accountability for the management of the Single Pot.
The big ideas identified in the report include:
- ‘UK Central’, the massive potential of which capitalises on the M42 Economic Gateway;
- The expansion of Birmingham Airport;
- Birmingham City Centre Enterprise Zone and Sector Acceleration Zones;
- The benefits of the GBSLEP directing skills funding locally, enabling them to match the supply of skills more closely with the needs of growth businesses of the future;
- The acceleration of Digital Connectivity
- Using Single Pot funding to tackle poverty and deprivation.
Andy Street, Chair of the GBSLEP, said: “The report confirms the potential of a number of transformational opportunities that through the Single Pot could become a reality relatively quickly.
“This is a win-win for Government and for Greater Birmingham and, ultimately, the UK economy.
“There is a shared determination and vision across our city region about what needs to be done – we now need to build on our current progress by continuing to trailblaze in the way Lord Heseltine envisages.
Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “From the outset, Birmingham and our partners in the Local Enterprise Partnership have been bold in our negotiations with Government.
“At the launch of the Greater Birmingham Project in January, Lord Heseltine made it perfectly clear that he was challenging stakeholders to come forward with the big ideas.
“This will put Birmingham and the wider city region at the forefront of a new way of working. Great cities are the engines of growth and the country will not prosper unless we do.”
Cllr Ken Meeson, Leader of Solihull MBC, said: “We have worked as part of the Local Enterprise Partnership to demonstrate clearly to Government how a diverse range of councils from across the region can work in partnership with the private sector to deliver jobs, investment and prosperity.
“Collectively we could realise our vision in a more robust and efficient fashion through the proposed Single Pot.
“Projects like the M42 Gateway offer an exciting opportunity which will not only benefit Solihull, but the wider LEP and the UK economy as a whole.
“This is a golden opportunity for Government to work with us to put Lord Heseltine’s recommendations into practice.
“I think it is clear that all the partners involved in the LEP have risen to the challenge of ‘No Stone Unturned’ and are now ready, willing and able to rise to the challenge of delivering our promises.”
Speaking on behalf of the district partners involved in the GBSLEP, Leader of East Staffordshire District Council Richard Grosvenor and Leader of Bromsgrove District Council Roger Hollingworth, said: “Big ideas also need stronger solutions and the strengthening of the Governance arrangements will put us in a much stronger position to deliver what we are promising.”
Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Minister for Cities, The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, said: “Having launched this initiative in Birmingham with Lord Heseltine and the Local Enterprise Partnership earlier this year I am delighted by the progress that has been made.
“The economic potential of this area when everyone is working together is vast – it can be a powerhouse of the nation.
“The Government is determined to empower local economies to create jobs and growth. The fact that business and civic leaders – of all the main political parties – have come together to make solid proposals is a real achievement.
“It puts the region in pole position as the Government is poised to act on the recommendations of Lord Heseltine’s national report to empower local economies with powers and resources to create jobs and growth.”