Budget/ Comprehensive Spending Review Reactive Statement from Tim Pile, Chair of GBSLEP

Budget/ Comprehensive Spending Review Reactive Statement from Tim Pile, Chair of GBSLEP

27 Oct 2021

Today’s Budget and CSR outlines this Government’s vision to convert the bounce back from the Covid-19 pandemic into a sustained recovery between now and the end of this Parliament.

We welcome the series of measures the Chancellor announced to deliver an innovative, highly skilled economy.

For our businesses, the revised growth forecast highlights how our national recovery from Covid 19 has real momentum. However, for our SMEs and larger companies, challenges remain with the ongoing supply chain problems and higher energy prices. We continue to work with them to shape policy and deliver help through our GBSLEP Growth Hub.

The national economy is on track to return to pre-Covid 19 levels much quicker than expected. Locally GBSLEP has contributed to this and helped make a difference through our Recovery Taskforce. Last April we quickly repurposed £3 million of revenue funding and created packages of grants, business support and tailored guidance as part of our Covid response. A remarkable effort in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic. Our work continues.

We welcome the Chancellor’s announcement today on a business rates discount. As a LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) we recognise that the hospitality, leisure, and entertainment sectors have been hit hard and we have worked with the creative industries to design and deliver recovery packages. A 50 percent cut in rates will offer a lifeline to many organisations that have already shown great resilience. Also, businesses that want to make their buildings greener and more energy efficiently will no longer be expected to pay higher business rates. This is a crucial step to help them go greener and achieve net zero goals. Low-carbon projects and investments are an integral part of our delivery work, and we will continue to support our businesses as we build a ‘green recovery.’ We have already allocated over £90k from our Low Carbon Grant Fund to 3 projects and have recently closed a call for capital projects with a low carbon focus. This autumn we will launch our Clean Growth programme designed to help SMEs decarbonise.

We are committed to a sustainable and inclusive recovery and are ready to deliver on the Plan for Growth. We acknowledge greater investment in innovation, infrastructure, and skills.

The commitment to increase the British Business Bank’s regional programmes, including the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, will benefit hundreds of businesses across the GBSLEP region, helping create new jobs and investment in new equipment and machinery. As the lead on the life sciences sector in the region, our local government and academic partners and businesses will undoubtedly welcome the £1.4 billion Global Britain investment fund. This funding along with the greater health spending especially in diagnostics is critical to tackling ongoing health inequalities and in turn economic inequality.

At the heart of the ambition to level up is the Government’s pledge to deliver a skills revolution. The £560 million Multiply programme which will help improve the numeracy levels of adults will complement existing initiatives such as the Skills Bootcamps and T-levels. Ensuring delivery of these projects is crucial and we will continue to work with businesses to ensure that skills needs are matched by providers through or GBSLEP Skills and Apprenticeship Hub. Delivering a highly skilled workforce is at the heart of our mission to drive inclusive growth across our region.

Finally, we are delighted that projects in our area have received grants from the Levelling Up Fund (LUF). Many of the projects are aligned to existing GBSLEP programmes of funding, with our initial funding helping speed up the Levelling Up Fund bids. We have supported projects like the regeneration of Bromsgrove Town Centre and the Moseley Road Baths in Birmingham. We are also delighted to see the A457 Dudley Road scheme in Birmingham allocated LUF money. This builds on our £5 million Local Growth Fund investment, which has enabled the scheme to be developed to this stage. Congratulations to all the successful projects.

All this builds on our work over the last 10 years to deliver inclusive, sustainable growth. Our unique structure of bringing together public, private, and educational partners has enabled us to create better places for our communities to live and work in. We forecast that our £1.6 billion investment in driving inclusive economic growth will leverage £4.7 billion private sector investment by the time all projects are delivered – a brilliant achievement.

We look forward to welcoming further detail on the Government’s proposals to level up when the White Paper is published later this year.

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