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Tim Pile, Chair of GBSLEP reacts to the 2020 Budget

Tim Pile, GBSLEP, said:

“The immediate challenges faced by both our businesses and residents have been rightly addressed by the Government in today’s budget announcements.

“The Chancellor’s announcement on the provision of a fund to support small businesses impacted by covid-19 – combined with the Bank of England’s term funding scheme and lowering of interest rates – is welcome news.

“With more than 22,000 small businesses in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull region, assistance such as delayed tax payments and short-term tax cuts will be of significant help in ensuring the longevity of these companies, the jobs that they support and provide stability through what will no doubt be a challenging economic period.

“Creating the conditions for businesses to continue to thrive is critical to the long-term success of our region, and indeed the wider country. LEPs clearly set out a call for increased spending on business support services, and I am pleased to hear the extension to start-up loans, funding to support scale-ups and additional funding for Growth Hubs marked out in the budget.

“In support of the Government’s focus on levelling-up, it is also imperative that organisations like the LEPs are able to continue investing in projects supporting economic growth and job creation in their local areas. It is therefore positive to see the acknowledgement of the Local Growth Fund (LGF) within the budget, which confirms £387 million of LGF in 2021-22 for local areas to continue with existing priority projects that require funding beyond this year, in advance of longer term decisions being made.

“Whilst this is clearly very pleasing news, much more additional funding is needed to ensure we can capitalise on a pipeline of new and existing strategically important projects, to enable continued growth and to the benefit of our businesses and our communities.

“More widely, it was great to see some other major opportunities for our region being recognised, including a £21m allocation for the Commonwealth Games Trade, Tourism and Investment Programme to ensure economic legacy for the West Midlands and the country, and £160m to West Midlands Combined Authority to accelerate progress on the Eastside Metro extension and phase one of the Sprint bus rapid transit network.

“In addition, the unlocking of £120 million to repair damaged flood defences, £400 million for Mayoral Combined Authorities and local areas to enable development of brownfield land for housing, and the billions outlined for infrastructure improvements all have the potential to produce significant benefits for the future prosperity of the region.”