A pioneering new unit to ensure everyone in the region benefits from the work of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has been established.
The Inclusive Growth Unit is a ground-breaking collaboration between the WMCA and a range of organisations to ensure policy and decision-making tackles issues such as poverty and unemployment.
They include Public Health England, the Barrow Cadbury Trust, and a range of national and regional bodies focused on social change and economic inclusion.
Cllr Steve Eling, leader of Sandwell Council and WMCA Portfolio Holder for Cohesion, Inclusion and Public Service Reform, said: “The Inclusive Growth Unit’s job will be to link cranes with communities.
“This is a really innovative development being pioneered by the WMCA that will help to bring lasting benefits to our communities.”
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “We want to ensure that the West Midlands renaissance extends to all of its residents.
“Despite the region’s rapid growth, we know that many of its communities have not yet seen the benefits - unemployment remains higher than the national average, and evidence suggests that around 25% of children grow up with experience of poverty.
“That has to change, which is why this innovative partnership has been established. It will help the WMCA respond to the economic opportunities open to the West Midlands with policies that generate more and better jobs for local people.”
Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England (PHE), said: “PHE is delighted to support this pioneering move to establish an Inclusive Growth Unit within the WMCA.
“Our approach is founded on the simple truth that health is wealth. Improving health outcomes and raising productivity are two sides of the same coin.
“We want to work with Mayor Street, councils and public service partners across the West Midlands to focus on the population interventions that can best deliver inclusive growth.”
Partners working with the WMCA on the Inclusive Growth Unit are:
Public Health England
The Barrow Cadbury Trust
The Centre for Progressive Policy
Localise West Midlands
The Early Intervention Foundation
City-REDI, University of Birmingham
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation
The Black Country Consortium
Dark Matter Laboratories
The region’s Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships and the West Midlands Growth Company
The unit - embedded within the WMCA - will help ensure inclusive growth is hard-wired into mainstream West Midlands investment, economic growth and local industrial strategy.
It will do this by providing research, analysis, insight and citizen engagement to support more inclusive policy and investment decisions, and giving long term strategic support for the WMCA and its public service partners within the region.
Initial activities will include:
A West Midlands Inclusive Growth Audit - a regular publication which will give a picture of the region around the inclusivity of jobs, skills and growth outcomes
A citizen engagement programme - ensuring the voice of local people is at the heart of the WMCA’s vision for inclusive growth
The establishment of a Population Hub – led by Public Health England, this will provide a state-of-the-art data dashboard of population health plus social and economic analysis to underpin preventative investment
A commitment to ensure inclusive growth is at the heart of the Local Industrial Strategy that the West Midlands has been selected as a trailblazer to develop with Government
The development of a West Midlands Inclusive Growth Toolkit - giving the ability to analyse and shape spending and investment decisions to generate inclusive growth
Supporting next steps of the West Midlands Leadership Commission, and the WMCA’s drive to support an inclusive digital agenda
The WMCA is the largest partnership of local authorities and other public service agencies in the country.
Since its formation in 2016 and through the two devolution deals signed with the Government it has committed to a programme of investment and reform to transform the region’s growth prospects.
This has already resulted in funding of major plans for infrastructure investment, transport connectivity and housing, and a forthcoming Local Industrial Strategy currently being worked on with the Government.