Skills funding to be devolved to Midlands authorities

13 Feb 15

Chancellor George Osborne has pledged to devolve skills funding to combined authorities in the Midlands as part of a 15-year plan to make the region ‘an engine for growth’.

Osborne set out plans to boost the region’s economy and create 300,000 extra jobs in a visit to Derby with Prime Minster David Cameron. He said the region had been growing and creating jobs faster than the UK average during this parliament.

‘The challenge now is to sustain this which is why the prime minister and I are here today setting out our long-term plan to create 300,000 new jobs, boost the Midland’s growth by over £30bn and significantly improve the quality of life,’ he added.

Among the plans set out yesterday, the government committed to take action to raise the long-term growth rate of the region to at least match that of the UK, which could add an extra £34bn to the Midlands economy in real terms by 2030.

Ministers would also work to deliver £5.2bn of investment in new transport infrastructure in the Midlands, upgrading motorways to four lanes and delivering faster north-south rail connections, which also includes the High Speed 2 rail line.

Among the key milestones in the plan was the pledge to devolve skills funding to combined authorities once they are formed, similar to the deals recently agreed with Manchester and Sheffield.

Devolution of skills funding was one of the key recommendations of the RSA’s flagship City Growth Commission, which has been backed by Osborne.

Other key points included the completion of the M1 smart motorway upgrade between Nottingham and Sheffield in 2016, and support for the creation of 1,300 jobs and 2,750 homes through a £6m investment in the A50 by 2019.

In addition, phase 1 of the HS2 rail line – between London and Birmingham – is due to open in 2026/27, which will cut journey times by around half an hour.

Cameron said the government was working to build a more resilient economy in the Midlands, which would benefit people both in cities and in rural areas.

‘We are already seeing more jobs and greater growth in the region, but we want to see more,’ he added.

‘That’s what our long-term economic plan will do – it will help the region build on its success and create new opportunities through massive investment in infrastructure and housing.’

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