£66 million for 'shovel ready' schemes to drive region's economic recovery
The West Midlands has landed £66 million in Government funding to kick start a series of "shovel ready" schemes.
The cash is aimed at driving the region’s post-Covid-19 recovery and could be earmarked for projects including new railway stations and roads in the Black Country.
Bosses at the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) are working with LEPs across the region to finalise a list of schemes.
The money, from the Government’s Getting Building Fund, is in response to a list the region submitted two weeks ago of infrastructure schemes that can be underway within 18 months to get the local economy moving again.
It follows Boris Johnson’s ‘New Deal’ announcement in Dudley on Tuesday, which included £84 million for the WMCA to unlock more derelict industrial land for housing.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, said: "This latest announcement means the West Midlands has now received £150m of Government funding in the space of just three days as we look to re-boot our regional economy from the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
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"Infrastructure investment is going to be key to our economy bouncing back quickly from this crisis, and this new £66m funding means we can now press ahead, and in some cases accelerate, a number of important infrastructure schemes for the region."
The region has also submitted to ministers a £3.2 billion blueprint to kickstart the West Midlands economy and create long-term prosperity for the region and wider UK.
Asked about his plans for the region, Mr Johnson told the Express & Star: "When you add everything together that we are doing, the West Midlands will get a huge investment.
"I wouldn't like to identify the exact figure, but I would be amazed if it wasn't above £3 billion."
Councillor Ian Brookfield, Labour leader of City of Wolverhampton Council and WMCA portfolio holder for economy, said: "The impact of Covid-19 has been unimaginable and unprecedented.
"Before the pandemic struck, major regeneration projects were making good progress and we had a strong portfolio of schemes in the pipeline.
"It is critical to the region’s economic recovery that we bolster these projects financially - and get our ‘shovel ready’ schemes moving swiftly.
"This funding will help us to do that, also delivering much-needed jobs and attracting further investment."
Labour's candidate for West Midlands Mayor, Liam Byrne MP, said the funding allocation for the region was "disappointing".
"This is not nearly enough to stop mass unemployment in the West Midlands," he added.