BUDGET 2021: Good news for the West Midlands?
West Midlands business leaders have broadly welcomed the budget presented by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Key announcements include the extension of the furlough scheme until September whilst Universal Credit is to be extended for a further six months. Income tax will increase in real terms, even for those on low salaries. There was also a major increase on corporation tax for the large companies making the most profit. Mr Sunak said tax increases were necessary because lockdowns and coronavirus has caused ‘acute’ damage to the economy. Something he warned will last for years to come.
West Midlands Recovery
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street estimates that 100,000 people across the West Midlands have lost their jobs since the beginning of the pandemic.
This week he launched a plan in an attempt to regain those lost roles. The Mayor’s plan looks at how these jobs can be regained in the next 24 months – as well as ensuring opportunities are there for both the younger generations and deprived communities across the region.
The plan is far from exhaustive and does not factor in expected private sector investment as the economy rebounds, but it covers the here and now of what Andy as Mayor and in his role as chair of the WMCA can impact.
In total, the Mayor estimates this plan will get 100,000 people into work within the next two years. Significant proportions will come through the region’s training schemes, such as Kickstart and the WMCA’s Sector-based Work Academy Programmes, whilst he says the plan will also leverage growth in key economic sectors such as modern services and life sciences, as well as make the most of three major opportunities – Coventry City of Culture, HS2 and the Commonwealth Games.
The next mayoral election is on the sixth of May and employment is expected to be a major issue.
Mr Streets main rival in the election is Labour’s Liam Byrne. He has said that the region had been hit harder than anywhere else. Mr Byrne is currently the MP for Hodge Hill in Birmingham, the constituency with the highest rate of unemployment benefit claims in the UK with 14.1 % of people living there claiming either Universal credit or Jobseeker’s Allowance. Mr Byrne says his campaign will focus on job creation for young people and has called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to ‘make good’ on his promises to ‘level up’ the country.
Additionally job creation is planned through the new ‘green economy’. The first big announcement being a proposed new ‘gigafactory’ in Coventry. The massive 4.5 million square foot site would build batteries for electric vehicles. Mr Street has commenced talks with the government about securing a share in £500m of funding with formal request expected soon. Coventry City Council say the plant could attract up to £2bn of investment into the region and create thousands of jobs.
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