West Midlands councils earmark £1.2bn for skills and net-zero projects

Councils across the West Midlands have agreed on a new £1.2bn funding package aimed at upskilling workers, improving the transport system and cutting carbon in line with an ambition to reach net-zero by 2041.

West Midlands councils earmark £1.2bn for skills and net-zero projects

View of Birmingham at sunset - West Midlands, England

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), set up in 2016 and consisting of 18 local councils, has this week approved the new £1.2bn balance budget for 2024/25.

More than £700m has been allocated for investment in projects that can support the region’s plans to reach net-zero by 2041. This will be bolstered by a revenue budget of nearly £507m.

The Board, which includes the leaders of the seven West Midlands councils, has also approved specific spending plans across the areas of housing, transport and skills.

The WMCA’s chair and Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “It’s no secret that the last year has been a challenging time for households, businesses and local authorities. The WMCA is not immune from this so it’s good news that despite those challenges we’ve come together as a team to safeguard the outcomes that local people rightly expect us to deliver including when it comes to transport, skills and housing.

“We’re making hundreds of millions of pounds available to ensure residents can gain the skills they need to succeed and secure the high-quality well-paid jobs of the future, find affordable homes to buy or rent, and benefit from a reliable and sustainable transport network.”

Key spending projects confirmed under the £1.2bn package include £111m on tram extensions across the region, £35m on new railway services and stations on the Birmingham Camp Hill and Walsall to Wolverhampton lines and  £41m for ‘Clean Bus’ services in Coventry and other zero emission bus routes.

Additionally, £71m has been earmarked for cycle and walking schemes and other sustainable travel projects and £14m for social housing and other net zero schemes.

Almost £200m has been allocated for skills and community investments and £95 has been earmarked for housing and land to regenerate derelict brownfield sites.

Case study: The 15-year energy partnership to save costs and cut emissions

According to a survey of councils from the Climate Change Committee (CCC) no local councils in England believe their climate plans are fully aligned with UK-wide legally binding net-zero targets, and are looking to Whitehall for reforms to decarbonise their energy, buildings and transport on a budget.

The WMCA has proposed reaching net-zero by 2041. With local authorities plagued by issues such as underfunding and lack of in-house resources, Coventry City Council has struck a 15-year partnership with E.ON to deliver energy decarbonisation solutions.

Read the full case study here.

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