Growth deals to 'fire up local economies'

Published on Monday, 07 July 2014 11:03
Written by Govtoday staff

As part of its long-term economic plan to secure Britain's future, the government today is agreeing a series of growth deals with businesses and local authorities across England.

The prime minister and deputy prime minister will announce the first instalment of plans to invest at least £12bn in local economies in a series of growth deals. The money will go towards providing support for local businesses to train young people, create thousands of new jobs, build thousands of new homes and start hundreds of infrastructure projects; including transport improvements and superfast broadband networks.

Today, the first £6bn of local projects has been agreed as the first wave of growth deals are being announced. This includes the complete allocation of £2bn from the Local Growth Fund for 2015 to 2016, and, because the quality of the proposals was so high, in some cases commitments are being given for following years for important long-term projects so they can get underway.

In addition, discussions with local enterprise partnerships will continue, to prepare for future negotiations on the next round of growth deals to build on the momentum now established.

Growth deals are a revolution in the way our economy is run. For the first time ever, housing, infrastructure and other funding is being brought together in a single pot, and put directly into the hands of local authorities and businesses to spend the way they know best.

Projects beginning in 2015 to 2016 are expected to be matched by local investments worth around twice the contribution from central government. Across the country they are expected to lead to work on more than 150 roads, 150 housing developments and 20 stations, as well as:

  • Providing small business support services in every part of England and significant investment in skills training.
  • Working to improve educational attainment.
  • Getting more people from welfare to work.

Some of the major projects that will be built as a result of these deals include:

  • £18m to revamp the Metrolink transport system in Manchester, which will include 12 new trams, revamped stations and improved bus services. This is part of a £50m transport package in Greater Manchester.
  • £23m for a new road tunnel linking Swindon to nearby Wichelstowe, creating thousands of jobs and opening up a new site for thousands of homes - this is just one of dozens of road projects which will get off the ground thanks to the growth deals the local enterprise partnerships have agreed with the government.
  • Millions of pounds for projects around the country to boost the skills that local businesses say they need, including £55m for London's Skills Capital programme; a Glass Academy in Sheffield to train people to work in the city's glassworks and an Oil and Gas Academy in the Tees Valley - this not only helps businesses, but also young people who might struggle to get a job and take advantage as the economy grows.
  • The creation of a new National Agri-Food Campus in York which will help the area become a global leader in food manufacturing, agricultural technologies, and bio-renewable sectors, creating up to 800 new jobs.
  • Funding for Birmingham to help the city make the most of HS2 - including improving connection to the Birmingham Curzon Street station so that the area can maximise the benefits in terms of investment, jobs and skills.
  • Support and advice for small and medium sized businesses, so that they can grow and create hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country - local enterprise partnerships will tailor this support to local needs.
  • Funding for a new engineering training facility at the MIRA technology park - delivered in partnership with North Warwickshire and Hinckley College, University of Leicester and Loughborough University. The centre will equip people with the skills to work in advanced transport engineering, a growing sector in Leicestershire and the surrounding area.
  • Support for a £1m project to create the Silverstone Metrology Centre, a high precision measurement facility for small and medium sized enterprises working in high performance technology industries such as motorsports, enabling them to develop new products.
  • Funding for broadband networks in areas where provision is not currently available, such as remote areas of the north east.

The prime minister, David Cameron, said: "Growth deals are a crucial part of our long-term plan to secure Britain's future. For too long our economy has been too London-focused and too centralised. Growth deals will help change all that. They are about firing up our great cities, towns and counties so they can become powerhouses.

"By trusting local people, backing business and investing in infrastructure, skills and housing, we can create thousands of new jobs. And that means more economic security, peace of mind and a brighter future for hardworking people across the country."

The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, who chairs the local growth cabinet committee, said: "We are ending a culture of Whitehall knows best. Decisions over spending on infrastructure, business support and housing are being made at a truly local level. It will help end our over-reliance on the banks and the City of London, and generate growth, jobs, and ambition in towns and cities all across England.

"Growth deals will create thousands of jobs, provide incredible new training opportunities for young people, build thousands of new homes and improve transport links across the country for people and their families; building a stronger economy and a fairer society.

"We're placing the power and money in the hands of the people who know how to spend it best, making a real difference to local communities."

Greg Clark, minister for cities, said: "This is a landmark day for Britain's local economies. National growth is the sum of local growth. For Britain to prosper every part of the country needs to fulfil its potential. No two places are the same and the people who live, work and do business in each place know best what their area needs to do well. Today is the day when we back local leaders to create jobs and prosperity in their area.

"These growth deals build on the success of our city deals. I look forward to meeting with all LEPs over the next few weeks to negotiate the next instalment of growth deals building on this momentum."

Lord Heseltine said: "In every experience I have had of backing local people, local experience and local initiative the results have seriously exceeded expectations. Today's announcement is a giant step in the rebalancing of our economy."

Alex Pratt, chair of the LEP Network Management Board said: "The zest for growth captured in the LEP strategic economic plans has been met by a powerful vote of confidence in the quality of our bottom-up, evidence-led vision and focus.

"This moment brings us to an exciting new beginning for coalface-inspired growth. Every LEP will be focussing hard on delivering its growth promises."

Source: Prime Minister's Office

Add comment