The government has agreed a series of growth deals with businesses and local authorities across England. The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister recently announced the first installment of plans to invest at least £12 billion in local economies in a series of growth deals.
The money will go towards providing support for local businesses to train young people, creating thousands of new jobs, building thousands of new homes and starting hundreds of infrastructure projects; including transport improvements and superfast broadband networks.
The first £6 billion of local projects has been agreed, as the first wave of growth deals is being announced. This includes the complete allocation of £2 billion from the Local Growth Fund from 2015 to 2016. As the quality of the proposals was so high, in some cases, commitments are being given for following years for important long-term projects, so they can get underway. In addition, discussions with local enterprise partnerships will continue to prepare for future negotiations on the next round of growth deals, to build on the momentum now established.
Growth deals are a revolution in the way the UK economy is run. For the first time ever, housing, infrastructure and other funding is being brought together in a single pot, and put directly into the hands of local authorities and businesses to spend the way they know best. Projects beginning in 2015 to 2016 are to be funded by local investments, worth around twice the contribution from central government. Across the country these projects are expected to lead to work on more than 150 roads, 150 housing developments and 20 stations; as well as providing small business support services in every part of England and significant investment in skills training. In addition, the projects are working to improve educational attainment and getting more people from welfare to work.
There are many different areas of investment including: £18 million to revamp the Metrolink transport system in Manchester, which will include 12 new trams, revamped stations and improved bus services. This is part of a £50 million transport package in Greater Manchester. There is also £23 million for a new road tunnel linking Swindon to nearby Wichelstowe: creating thousands of jobs and opening up a new site for thousands of homes. This is just one of the dozens of road projects that will get off the ground because of growth deals that local enterprise partnerships have agreed with the government.
The Prime Minister has said: “Growth deals are a crucial part of our long-term plan to secure Britain’s future. For too long our economy has been too London-focused and too centralised. Growth deals will help change all that. They are about firing up our great cities, towns and counties so they can become powerhouses.”
Growth deals are giving millions of pounds for projects around the country, to boost the skills that local businesses say they need. This includes: £55 million for London’s Skills Capital programme; a Glass Academy in Sheffield to train people to work in the city’s glassworks and an Oil and Gas Academy in the Tees Valley. They help businesses and young people, who might struggle to get a job and take advantage, as the economy grows. The deals give support and advice to small and medium sized businesses, so that they can grow and create hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country; local enterprise partnerships will tailor this support to local needs.
Also, the creation of a new National Agri-Food Campus in York will help the area become a global leader in food manufacturing, agricultural technologies, and bio-renewable sectors; creating up to 800 new jobs. In addition, there is funding for Birmingham to help the city make the most of HS2. This funding will, include improving connections to the Birmingham Curzon Street station. Better transport links will help the area to maximise the benefits, in terms of investment, jobs and skills.
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