Within the next few days, Government is expected to provide first indications of 2015/6 funding allocations from the ‘single pot’. This follows submission of the 39 LEPs’ Strategic Economic Plans at the end of March.
Worcestershire LEP’s Plan set out a 10 year phased development process with an overall request for £280 million. The 2015/6 headline indicated that up to £48 million of spend could be achieved in that year should funding be unlimited. However the overall sum available across all of England was limited to £2 billion, of which approximately one half was already allocated to on-going projects. In any case, the funding sought by the 39 LEPs meant that the fund was more than three times over subscribed.
Executive Chair of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, Peter Pawsey, commented: “In line with all LEPs, we maximised the 2015/6 request on the basis that we could accelerate delivery of various projects if funding was available. The inevitable significant scaling back of our programme was always in our minds and we know that a combination of re-programming and phasing of projects will allow us to still make significant progress against the overall economic plan for Worcestershire.
“Together with our business and local authority partners we have created a 10 year plan and this is only year one. We will find imaginative ways to keep that plan on track and to bring the jobs, the training and skills, and the economic benefits to our county.
“For example, one of the strategic objectives of the plan is to improve rail services to and from London, Birmingham and other key locations and there is already good news on that front. Ongoing negotiations with First Great Western and through them with the Department for Transport and with Network Rail means that a less than two hour journey between Worcester and London Paddington is now not far away.”