Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves MP has welcomed the launch of the West Midlands Forum to bring together key players from politics, business, academia and civil society to create a vision for the region and determine priorities for the next decade.
Ms Reeves, who also serves as the Member of Parliament for Leeds West, met with the region’s business leaders at the Edgbaston Priory Club. She said:
“Regions like the West Midlands need to speak with a strong, unified and authoritative voice. This new forum will bring together business, politics, trade unions, academia, faith leaders, the creative sector to make sure that voice is heard.
“The West Midlands has a crucial role to play in leading the new green industrial revolution our country needs, and which a Labour government would support through a £28bn Climate Investment Pledge to bring the jobs of the future to all parts of the UK.
"I look forward to hearing more about this exciting and innovative project. It will have my full support.”
The launch of the West Midlands Forum comes as new analysis of the Budget shows the region losing out to other parts of the country:
- The West Midlands has been awarded £216 million less than the North West in combined Levelling Up and Towns Fund money, coming just fourth overall in the UK
- Awards of Levelling Up funds in the Budget for the West Midlands totaled just £33 per person - fifth in the UK, behind the East Midlands, Scotland, the North West and Yorkshire and Humberside
- And transport funding per person was close to bottom of the league table for English regions.
- The latest Oxford Economics baseline forecast to 2040 predicts the region's economy will grow to £131bn by 2040, an average of 1.16% per year lagging the UK's growth of 1.35%.
The Forum’s first report on the decade ahead for the region will be launched on Friday 14th January, followed by special reports on the creative economy and Green Manufacturing. The forum’s co-chair, the Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP added:
“It’s crystal clear our region has to step up the fight to get our fair share - and last week’s budget proved it. The frustration over the failure to establish a gigafactory to support our car industry is just one example of where the West Midlands is in danger of being forgotten.
"The West Midlands Forum will be both a think tank and a campaign. The shutdown of the old regional development agency and the abolition of regional Ministers, has left a massive gap in regional planning which, with the best will in the world, the Combined Authority is being short-changed to cover.
“Rachel recognises how important it is that the West Midlands has an authoritative voice and that is exactly what the West Midlands Forum will provide”
"When the latest forecasts show our region's economy is set to lag behind the rest of the country and we face hundreds of thousands of job losses in manufacturing, we've got to redouble our fight for the region's future."