The Labour mayor of the Liverpool City region on its £500m new Strategic Investment Fund.
Devolution can be a complex topic. But at its root is a concept that could not be simpler – that the people who live in a place are best placed to make decisions about it.
Whilst the pace of devolution has arguably slowed of late, those decisions are increasingly about how we spend our money. And as we enter an uncertain, post-Brexit world, devolution gives us the opportunity to decide to use our resources in ways that benefit and protect our residents and communities.
That is why I am announcing a £500m fund to help transform the city region’s economy, creating high-quality jobs and boosting living standards for local people in the Liverpool City Region.
The new Strategic Investment Fund will feature a new approach to how our Combined Authority funds projects, which recognises the importance of building resilient communities, and puts the creation of social value at the heart of what we do. Some £100m will be available in the first year of the fund, rising to £500m over four years.
Our key purpose as a Combined Authority is to improve our residents’ lives, by creating the right ecosystems for our economy to thrive, while ensuring that growth benefits everyone through well paid local jobs and increased living standards.
Through the Strategic Investment Fund we will have £500m available to support projects in areas such transport infrastructure, economic development, skills, culture and housing.
Devolution gives us the opportunity to do things differently – and one of the ways we will do that is by making clear to applicants that they will have a better chance of success if their bids demonstrate positive social impact.
So, for example, we will consider their bid more favourably if they pay the living wage, refuse to use zero hour contracts, create apprenticeships and use local supply chains and labour to deliver their projects.
We are determined to ensure that, in an uncertain, post-Brexit world, this funding delivers the maximum possible benefit to the people of the Liverpool City Region.
As a Combined Authority we have already identified projects which can receive support from the fund, including:
- Ultra-fast broadband for every borough, delivered by building a fibre superspine, that will connect all six of our constituent districts, and see digital exchanges created throughout the city region;
- A new smart ticketing system as part of our move towards a truly integrated public transport system;
- Help for our high streets, through a £5m Town Centre Fund that will help regenerate towns throughout our city region;
- And a new generation of Mersey Ferries.
We know the difference that we can make as a Combined Authority from projects supported even before the adoption of this new approach.
Through our previous Single Investment Fund we have allocated £400m for investments across the city region, money which has enabled us to leverage in another £500m of additional investments.
We know that this investment will support around £1.7bn of economic activity, and directly create 9000 jobs and 5,500 apprenticeships, through supporting a wide range of projects, including:
- £19m for the Newton-le-Willows interchange;
- £13m for a new station at Maghull North;
- £20m for a new Cruise Liner Terminal;
- £2.5m for Blackburne House in Liverpool 8, one of the country’s leading educational centres for women;
- £3.4 million for Alstom for a state-of-the-art train maintenance and repair facility, creating hundreds of local jobs and apprenticeships;
- £30m for 40 skills projects in local colleges;
- £12m for Paddington Village in the Knowledge Quarter;
- £14million from its Single Investment Fund for the Shakespeare North Playhouse and a Rail Interchange project in Prescot.
In addition to making additional funding available, the new Strategic Investment Fund recognises the need to improve our capacity to develop high-impact investment-ready projects. So we will provide pre-development funding to help expand and improve the pipeline of projects, by providing support to prospective applicants to help analyse markets, identify opportunities and develop projects.
At the last election, Labour’s manifesto committed to a National Transformation Fund, which would increase levels of public investment in much needed infrastructure, R&D and job training.
I believe what we are creating here today is a city region version of that – our own local transformation fund.
It not only shows only the public that devolution and having a metro mayor is delivering significant benefits to our region; but also the difference that Labour in power can make.
Steve Rotheram is Labour mayor of the Liverpool City Region.