Last edited 15 Feb 2018

Midlands Engine Strategy

The concept of a ‘Midlands Engine Strategy’ was announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond during the spring budget 2017, on 8 March 2017, but no details were given.

On 9 March 2017, the government published the Midlands Engine Strategy, which it described as ‘…a demonstration of the government’s commitment to making the Midlands a powerful engine for economic growth.’

It suggests that the Midlands sits at the heart of the UK economy, stretching from Shropshire to Lincolnshire, and having the M1, M6, and most of the major railway lines running through it. The Midlands is responsible for more than a fifth of the UK’s manufacturing capability.

The Midlands Engine Strategy builds on the Industrial Strategy (Building our Industrial Strategy: green paper published on 23 January 2017) which set out proposals for a modern industrial strategy intended to ‘…build on Britain’s strengths and tackle its underlying weaknesses to secure a future as a competitive, global nation’.

The Midlands Engine Strategy sets out plans to address productivity barriers across the Midlands, enabling businesses to create more jobs, export more goods and services, and grow their productivity.

It focuses on five key objectives:

  • Improving connectivity to raise productivity.
  • Strengthening skills to make the Midlands a more attractive location for businesses.
  • Supporting enterprise and innovation to foster a more dynamic regional economy.
  • Promoting the Midlands nationally and internationally to maximise trade and investment.
  • Enhancing quality of life to attract and retain skilled workers, and to foster the local tourist economy.

This is supported by plans to invest £392 million across the region through the Local Growth Fund, including:

  • £20 million for a Midlands Skills Challenge to help close the skills gap between the Midlands and the rest of the country.
  • A £250 million Midlands Engine Investment Fund to finance the expansion plans of SMEs across the region.
  • £12 million to develop a Black Country Garden City, offering new locations for high-quality housing.
  • £6 million to catalyse the regeneration of Derby City Centre.
  • £25 million to tackle congestion and improve major employment sites in the Black Country.
  • £12 million to improve road connections around Loughborough.
  • £4 million to support the operation of the Midlands Engine Partnership over the next two years.

This is in addition to £1.5 billion of Local Growth Fund investments in the Midlands that have previously been announced.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said: “The Midlands Engine Strategy is an important milestone, setting out the concrete actions we are taking, where we are not only investing in what it does well but also tackling some of the long standing productivity barriers in the region including skills and connectivity."

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Backed by millions in investment, this new strategy will help create more jobs and boost skills in the region. It will also showcase to investors here and abroad everything the Midlands Engine has to offer.”

Midlands Engine Partnership chairman Sir John Peace said: “This strategy represents a clear footprint for the Midlands Engine empowering us to think bigger, and work even closer together, across local economies and on a scale that makes sense in global markets. Later this year, we will respond to the government’s strategy by publishing an ambitious vision and action plan so we, together with government, succeed in unlocking the Midlands’ great potential.”

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