More had been expected around support for the ‘Midlands Engine’ in today’s (November 25) Comprehensive Spending Review announcement by the Chancellor, says the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership.
George Osborne’s speech, setting out the Government’s public spending strategy for 2016 to 2020, was littered with references to ‘Devolution’ and the ‘Northern Powerhouse’, but stopped short of announcing the deal for the D2N2 area (of Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire) lobbied for by the LEP and its partners. An agreement on this, currently the subject of final negotiations, is expected to be concluded shortly.
Positives from the Spending Review, directly affecting this area, were:
- £1.25million to the D2N2 LEP, to develop a growth strategy for the proposed High Speed 2 (HS2) hub planned for Toton. This will enable work to begin on long term plans for regeneration and development;
- Following the £5m the Government agreed in its July Budget for Midlands Connect – the cross-region scheme to integrate transport networks across the Midlands – a new Midlands Connect Strategic Board will be set-up to co-ordinate work on this initiative. Members will include representatives from the Department for Transport (DfT), Highways England, Network Rail, HS2 Ltd, local authorities, and D2N2 and other Midlands’ Local Enterprise Partnerships.
- £60m will be invested in the new Energy Research Accelerator – a major project to develop future sustainable energy technologies – by a partnership of the British Geological Survey in Keyworth, Nottinghamshire, and Nottingham, Loughborough, Leicester, Birmingham, Warwick and Aston universities. Development of ‘low carbon technologies’ is one of D2N2’s eight key sectors.
- £5million for a ‘Midlands Engine’ Trade and Investment Plan, to market the world-leading strengths of the Midlands overseas; including through an integrated events and trade missions programme, new specialist advisers and new resources to support inward investment.
- The Chancellor’s Spending Review also pledged to build on the good work so far of D2N2 and its fellow LEPs in the Midlands, to maximise the impact of European funding to help smaller businesses across the Midlands. D2N2’s own Growth Hub service, which aids new and growing companies, will mark its first anniversary next week (December 5).
The Government has also committed today to its £12billion Local Growth Fund (LGF) between 2015/16 and 2020/21. D2N2’s current LGF allocation – of £192.2m over six years – is already being put to good use building vital infrastructure to fuel economic growth in the area; for example, the £6.5m in LGF funding towards the £30m BioCity Nottingham site extension currently under construction.
David Ralph, Chief Executive of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “There were a lot of positives in the Chancellor’s Spending Review. We had the commitment to LGF funding; the extension of capital allowances at Infinity Park at Derby, part of the Nottingham and Derby Enterprise Zone we are investing in, to ease businesses’ tax burden; and the £1.25m HS2 growth strategy funding for Toton.
“However, we had hoped to hear more about the ‘Midlands Engine’ and of the practical measures the Government will bring in to support it. Similarly, there was a lot on Devolution for other UK areas but no big announcement on our area’s deal; which we are continuing to negotiate for and hope to shortly conclude.”
The announced extension nationally of apprenticeships schemes, aimed at allowing more businesses to take one on, and of measures to make home buying and rental more affordable for younger people, was also welcome, added David. He and other senior business figures from the area watched the Spending Review live, sharing comment on it and speaking to the media, at an event organised by East Midlands Chamber and company Turner & Townsend, at the latter’s Nottingham office today (David Ralph is pictured, centre right).
Skills and employment, particularly work to more closely link employers with skills providers training potential employees, and the drive for additional and more affordable housing, are both large areas of work and investment for D2N2.
For more information on D2N2’s work on skills and employment, creating the infrastructure for economic growth and investment in key sectors see its website at www.d2n2lep.org/
Media wanting more information about the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership can contact D2N2 Communications manager Sean Kirby on 0115 9578749 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org