Chancellor unveils new investment zone set to create 30,000 jobs by 2034
Jeremy Hunt unveiled plans for the next set of investment zones, following lobbying from Mayor Andy Street who he called the “West Midlands salesman in chief”.
The West Midlands Investment Zone will focus on advanced manufacturing across Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry, with expectations that it will help to leverage £2bn in private investment and create 30,000 jobs by 2034.
An anchor investment of £70m has been made from Bruntwood SciTech and Woodbourne Group for the Birmingham Knowledge Quarter. It’s backed by more than £5m of investment into enabling digital platforms to support advanced manufacturing growth.
Other sites include:
- Coventry-Warwick Gigapark – anchored by a new battery gigafactory and associated businesses and technologies
- Wolverhampton Green Innovation Corridor – creating new green industries and skills through a partnership between the city council and university
Tani Dulay, CEO of the Woodbourne Group told TheBusinessDesk.com: “Woodbourne Group’s anchor investment in Birmingham’s Knowledge Quarter, acknowledged by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in today’s 2023 Autumn Statement, serves as a catalyst for neighbouring masterplans.
“The designation of this area as an Investment Zone reflects confidence in Birmingham and our ability to compete on the global stage. We’re looking forward to ensuring we make this one of the greatest knowledge clusters in the world.”
Greater Manchester and the East Midlands have also secured new investment zones. The three deals are anticipated to generate a total of £3.4bn of private investment and create 65,000 high-quality jobs within the next decade.
Funding will be boosted from £80m to £160m for each investment zone, as well as tax reliefs being extended from five to ten years.
In addition, to deeper devolution, the government has agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding with local partners, outlining the approach to the single funding settlements which will be implemented at the next spending review for the West Midlands and Greater Manchester Combined Authorities.
‘Level 4’ of the devolution framework will also be published, allowing directly elected leaders to draw down from the framework. It will include new levers over local transport following the National Infrastructure Commission’s recommendation to devolve local transport powers and funding to local authorities.
Details have been agreed for the long-term business rates retention arrangements for the Greater Manchester and West Midlands Combined Authorities, which will commence in April 2024.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and Chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority, said: “I welcome the serious and substantial announcements set out by the Chancellor in today’s Autumn Statement. The responsible and forward-thinking decisions he has taken will support households and businesses, boost growth and investment and create job opportunities.
“It’s great news that we now have confirmation that our region will play host to an Investment Zone – incorporating sites from Wolverhampton to Birmingham to Coventry. This will turbo-charge the prospects of some of our key areas of strength including tech, advanced manufacturing, and green industries. Working alongside the outstanding research capabilities of our world-leading universities, this Investment Zone will enhance our ability to attract global companies to our region.
“The Chancellor’s decision to empower the West Midlands with a single funding settlement heralds a pivotal moment for our region. It will end the need for competitive bidding into Government to fund our transport, housing, skills, and investment projects and put us on par with Government departments and devolved parts of the UK.
“This greater financial certainty – and the trust shown in us by Government – will enable the WMCA to deliver prosperity for local people in the years ahead. It places decision-making where it belongs: in the hands of those who best understand our region’s priorities.”