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West Midlands seeks more powers to aid Covid-19 recovery

Words: Laura Edgar

Council leaders in the West Midlands and the mayor of the region’s combined authority have called on the government to devolve more powers to aid its recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The proposals have been submitted to the government ahead of the publication of a devolution white paper which is expected later this year.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said at the Local Governmnt Associationa's virtual conference in July that a recovery and devolution white paper sets out "ambitious plan, which will be a placed-based regional economic strategy, one which helps us to kick-start the recovery and to level up".

The West Midlands’ proposals include:

  • More say on how public funds are spent locally.
  • More control over regional transport such as buses and rail.
  • Local design of an affordable housing policy and ability to influence levels of housing benefit.
  • Powers that will help accelerate large infrastructure projects.

Mayor Andy Street said that existing devolved powers have "unquestionably bettered the lives of people in the West Midlands”.

“From full control over the adult education budget to our multi-million pound housing and land fund to remediate derelict industrial sites, devolution paved the way for our pre-Covid success – when we had a record number of homes being built, record numbers in work, and an economy growing faster than anywhere else outside of London.

“The pandemic has of course stalled that progress, but we must now look to devolution to get it back on track. With a greater say over how public funds are spent, more control over our transport systems, and more input into training for those looking to gain employment, new powers would help speed up our economic recovery, whilst also ensuring we can protect and create jobs for local people.”

Full details on the region’s devolution asks can be downloaded from the West Midlands Combined Authority website by clicking here.