Combined authority takes over following LEP closures

Laura Shoaf

Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEPs) have now both officially closed their services with operations moving over to the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

The moves comes after the Government’s announcement in last year’s Levelling-Up White Paper that all 38 LEPs in England were to integrate into their local democratic institutions.

The WMCA will now oversee all work previously done by these LEPs, including determining local economic priorities, undertaking activities to drive economic growth and job creation, improving infrastructure, and raising workforce skills within the local area.

As it stands, Birmingham and Solihull LEP will continue to operate until the end of the year meaning businesses can still access their Growth Hub as usual.

Laura Shoaf, chief executive of the WMCA, said: “I would like to thank both Black Country and Coventry LEP’s for all their hard work over the years in uniting businesses, organisations and individuals across the region to drive growth and create opportunities.

“Both LEPs have been successful in bringing millions of pounds of Government investment to support the West Midlasnds, enabling key infrastructure projects to become a reality and making a real difference to our region’s economy.”

Businesses in the Coventry and Black Country areas will still continue to receive free advice, support and funding with the launch of Business Growth West Midlands.

Co-ordinated by the WMCA and funded by a £42m investment from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. SMEs will also be able to get further help to decarbonise, reduce energy costs and become more sustainable.

As well as personalised advice on expanding their businesses from expert advisors, there will also be the chance to apply for grants that support business change and new growth opportunities for companies. The service will be delivered by the seven local authorities in the region including Dudley and Sandwell Councils.

These services have until now been supplied by Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) co-ordinated Growth Hubs, but this work has been transferred to the WMCA following a government directive.

The new arrangement will ensure a consistent level of support for businesses across all areas of the West Midlands.

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