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More than 600 business chiefs call on Chancellor to back £3.2bn blueprint to recharge West Midlands economy

More than 600 of the region’s top business leaders today called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to back a £3.2bn blueprint designed to kickstart the West Midlands economy.

Bosses from across the region have signed a joint letter to the Chancellor urging him to put the Government’s financial firepower behind a far-reaching plan which aims to recharge the regional economy and create long-term prosperity.

The blueprint – Kickstarting the West Midlands Economy: Our Investment Case to Government – was presented to Government last week after being collectively drawn up by the region’s political, business, and trade union leaders.

The region has already received £84m from Government to continue its work on regenerating brownfield sites to build new homes.

Now hundreds more bosses are backing the plan and pressing Government to help reset, rebuild and recharge the region.

As well as manufacturers, service industries and universities, leading hospitality and culture businesses, including Edgbaston Stadium and the Royal Shakespeare Company, are among the 610 who have signed the letter.

In their letter to the Chancellor, which was submitted by Black Country Chamber of Commerce with the support of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and Chambers across the region, business chiefs say the Government’s support is vital to recharge the region’s economy and drive national recovery.

Tim Pile, chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and a member of the steering group who helped to create the blueprint, said:

This clear demonstration of support from leaders of the regional economy for the blueprint is a fantastic reflection of the close partnership working across sectors which has gone into the development of these plans. Collaboration and strong leadership will be crucial elements to achieving a rapid recovery.

“As highlighted in the investment case, it’s important that we create and foster new opportunities in areas that will be key drivers of sustainable economic growth, including green technologies, advanced manufacturing, construction and digital healthcare. The West Midlands already has great strengths in these sectors that can be built upon to secure future prosperity for our businesses and residents.

“The West Midlands already makes a substantial contribution to the UK economy and will play a critical role in achieving a strong national recovery. We now need the Government’s support to accelerate this contribution even further, and we are very grateful for the swift action of business leaders to show their support and sign our region’s letter to the Chancellor.”

The blueprint put to Government includes three key business opportunities to create and safeguard thousands of jobs: The three are:

  • Creating green manufacturing jobs by harnessing clean technology and electrification
  • Turning HS2, Coventry City of Culture and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games into jobs for local people by accelerating major infrastructure investment
  • Investing in healthcare innovation, capitalising on the region’s existing strengths as a centre for health research, and using this to improve the region’s health.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said:

I am very encouraged that so many businesses from across our region have come together to back our investment blueprint. The human and economic cost of the Covid-19 pandemic has been devastating, but the West Midlands has acted together and at pace, and with the necessary support from Government we will be able to bounce back strongly.

“The blueprint is a mix of shorter and longer term schemes that will make a real difference to jobs in our region, and I am pleased to see some of that cash has already started flowing with the £84m we received this week to continue our Brownfield remediation work.

“We need to do everything we can to help keep people in work or get them back in as fast as feasibly possible, and this blueprint will help achieve exactly that. I am delighted we have the support of local businesses, now we need the Government to get on board too.”

Cllr Ian Brookfield, leader of City of Wolverhampton Council and WMCA portfolio holder for economic growth, added:

With 496,000 West Midlanders on furlough, together with forecasts that our region will be among the worst hit, we know the size of the challenge.

“An immediate cash injection will help our communities now, pay dividends for generations and avoid the risks of long-term scarring to young people as highlighted by experts like the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

“Our clear, credible recovery plan will deliver for businesses, the economy, the environment and most of all for everyone who lives or works in the WMCA area.”

The letter is available here on the Black Country Chamber of Commerce website, together with the list of signatories.