Ambitious 'Midlands Engine' Plans Announced

Birmingham Business Lawyer Says £34 Billion Masterplan Must Deliver

04.12.2015

David Shirt, Press Officer | 0161 838 3094

Plans to create a 'Midlands engine for growth' which aims to boost the economy by £34bn has been welcomed by a leading Birmingham business lawyer.

The prospectus has been prepared by 11 local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) across the region and is backed by business secretary Sajid Javid.

The document is focused on five key themes - skills, innovation, transport, promoting the ‘Engine’, and finance for business and estimates that similar to the Northern Powerhouse, it could generate £34bn and create 300,000 jobs in the next 15 years.

Sajid Javid said: "The Midlands is the heartland of our thriving manufacturing sector and home to 25 universities, playing a strong role in the recovery of the UK economy.

"But there are more opportunities to capitalise on the Midlands’ natural strengths and assets and make it an engine for growth. Through this prospectus, which sets out the region’s own vision to unlock greater economic growth, it’s time to fire up the Midlands Engine."

Ambitions include creating the first ever Midlands Engine trade mission to drive exports, building a region-wide tourism offer and developing the vision and strategy for transforming transport connectivity across the Midlands Engine region through Midlands Connect.

There are also plans to develop a regional fund using cash from the EU Joint European Resource for Micro to Medium Enterprises (JEREMIE) programme.

According to Irwin Mitchell’s UK Powerhouse report, London’s economy is expected to grow by 27% between 2015 and 2025 to just under £450billion (2012 prices). At the same time, the West Midlands is expected to grow the size of its economy by 15% with GVA expected to reach £131.7billion.

Chris Rawstron, partner and Head of Business Legal Services at Irwin Mitchell in Birmingham, said;

“These plans sound far-reaching and I certainly welcome any initiative which aims to create a stronger economic region.

“A lot has been said about the Northern Powerhouse, but it is essential that the region here now has a coordinated plan to ensure that we can build on our unique strengths. We know it has huge potential, but talking up the region is not enough. It is vital now that the voice of business is heard and that LEPs work closely together in a coordinated way to ensure the masterplan is delivered.”

As part of the UK Powerhouse study, Irwin Mitchell commissioned a YouGov survey of 1,000 businesses to examine the policy measures which the business community themselves think are the best way of boosting regional economic growth.

The survey found that only 32% of businesses in the West Midlands thought the Government had taken the relevant steps to address economic growth.

48% believe greater devolution of powers would boost economic growth in their region, whilst 55% say an increase in transport & infrastructure spending would be beneficial. Two thirds wanted the ability to set business rates.

When asked what the number one priority for helping to support future economic prosperity, one in five (19%) of businesses said investment in improved telecoms. Large scale infrastructure projects such as HS2 scored much lower.