Local businesses and communities to get more than £88 million of targeted support

The Board of the West Midlands Combined Authority have approved its UK Shared Prosperity Fund investment plan which will now trigger the Government’s release of the money to the region over the next three years.

The Board agreed that £42 million of the funding should be targeted at helping local businesses with the remainder of the money passed directly to the region’s seven metropolitan authorities – Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

The councils will use that funding for community and neighbourhood infrastructure work, including new green open spaces and to support community groups to help level up and build local pride of place. The business support funding will see expert advisers deployed at a local level across the region to directly help firms become more competitive and resilient in response to the increasing cost of doing business.

More than half the £42m allocated for business support will be used to deliver specialist programmes that help firms decarbonise their operations, boost productivity and secure additional investment to grow their businesses going forward. Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, said:

“These are undoubtedly tough times for our region – we’re battling back post Covid, but we now face cost of living pressures as global supply chain disruption, rising energy costs and the conflict in Ukraine contribute to the economic uncertainty.

“At this challenging time, it’s critical we allocate this very welcome new UKSPF money in a way that delivers for local people, places and businesses. Pre-pandemic, we were the fastest growing region outside of London and we can regain ground by taking the right action.

“Whilst this latest funding is good news, we will continue to lobby Government for additional powers and money – including the agreement of a new Trailblazer Devolution Deal. This is essential if we want to effectively tackle local issues – whether it’s connecting young people to high quality jobs, addressing health inequalities, or building more affordable homes on regenerated brownfield sites. Together, we can change lives for the better here in the West Midlands.”

The UKSPF is a central pillar of the Government’s Levelling Up agenda and is designed to replace the funding that would have been received from the EU. Its primary goal is to build pride in place and increase life chances across the UK, with three key investment priorities around ‘Community and Place’, ‘Supporting Local Business’, and ‘People and Skills’.

The WMCA, which was tasked by Government to co-ordinate UKSPF for the region, has worked closely with a wide range of organisations including local councils and Local Enterprise Partnerships in drawing up the investment plan. Cllr Ian Brookfield, WMCA portfolio holder for economy and innovation and leader of City of Wolverhampton Council, added:

“Our local businesses are the backbone of our regional economy, but many were still struggling to recover from the pandemic when this latest cost of living crisis struck.

“That’s why our UKSPF investment plan allocates such a large proportion of the money to providing them with the help they need to not only ride out the current challenges but go on to grow and create new jobs for local people, bolstering our regional recovery in the process.

"This latest funding is another successful example of the region working together to identify our local and regional priorities and putting forward a joined-up investment plan that can maximise the impact of that money for our residents, businesses, and places.

“Nevertheless, more will be needed from Government if we are to achieve our levelling up ambitions and we will continue to press hard for further investment so we can build a fairer and greener West Midlands.”

The ‘Supporting Local Business’ theme of the region’s UKSPF investment plan builds on the aims of the West Midlands Business Support Review, which was drawn up by the LEPs, WMCA and local councils last year.

The Review aims to boost business growth and jobs across the region by providing businesses with a consistent package of specialist support and advice programmes. The specialist business programmes to be funded from the region’s UKSPF allocation will complement existing local and regional business support services as well as helping to deliver key aspects of the region’s Plan for Growth.


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