Last week the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, presented the annual budget to the House of Commons, which included plans for much needed investment in new, affordable, good quality housing to help meet local need.
In the run up to the budget I worked closely with cross party Midlands MPs and organised a joint letter and a meeting with the chancellor to call for the further devolution of powers and new investment to our region. In response to this, the chancellor did provide the West Midlands with a £250 million package to improve local transport as well as a pledge to deliver new investment in a mix of private and local authority housing.
This announcement includes funding for an extension of the midlands tram link to Brierley Hill – helping to unlock the potential of a large brownfield site capable of producing up to 45,000 homes.
Enough to meet 60 per cent of our regions total housing need, this will create thousands of new jobs and for the residents of Solihull will serve to take some pressure off our local green belt land.
To support our flourishing regional car industry in a new digital age, the chancellor also announced new funding to further investment in the research and development of the next generation of driverless cars, thus ensuring that this exciting technology is pioneered and built here rather than abroad.
A £1.5billion package of improvements to the Universal Credit Scheme was also announced.
Universal Credit replaces six benefit payments and has been found to be 13 per cent more effective at helping people into work than the previous JSA scheme it replaces.
As part of the changes, waiting periods will be abolished. This will ensure that payments get to people with the greatest needs more quickly, whilst ensuring that this system supports more people into work, and is fair to everyone who pays for it.
Dame Caroline Spelman