Birmingham wins control of £1.5bn fund
Birmingham has been given control of a £1.5bn investment fund under plans which will see eight cities being handed more powers.
The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership said it meant more local control over spending.
LEP chairman Andy Street said the fund would create 2,000 more apprentices.
Minister for Cities Greg Clark revealed details of plans giving the eight cities more control of different areas, such as unemployment and transport.
Under Birmingham's fund, £25m will also be spent on a new translational medicine centre, which will boost the city's goal of becoming a world centre for life sciences.'Not completely new money'
Mr Street said: "We've got a first-class life sciences business in this city and what we are trying to do is concentrate activity around that and attract private sector investors... to actually locate [here]".
He said the project was a "good example" of where the city had an "international competitive advantage", adding the aim was to find projects which would attract private investment.
After the disappointment of May's mayoral referendums when nine cities, including Birmingham, rejected plans to introduce elected mayors, this announcement is being seen as an attempt by the coalition to reinvigorate its flagging localism agenda.
In Birmingham the deal means a huge financial boost, but not as yet all the devolved powers secured by other cities; though it is clear that may be something for the future.
The government is hoping that those cities which are being run by elected mayors, Leicester, Liverpool, Salford (and from November, Bristol) will prosper.
At the recent Local Government Conference in Birmingham, Cities Minister Greg Clark told delegates the chance to opt for an elected city or even metro mayor may still be available in the future.
Mr Street, who is also the managing director of John Lewis, said the announcement represented the government's "trust" in local politicians and businesspeople to make decisions over Birmingham's future.
"Crucially what we have is more control over money so we don't have to go cap in hand each time to Whitehall for a particular project.
"We can actually make some of our own choices."
He said the city may seek further powers in the future as it was "part of a journey".
Mr Street added the £1.5bn investment fund included money which would have been allocated to the area anyway.
"It's not completely new money. What it is is putting money that would probably have come in different ways into a pot so there's much more flexibility over how it's used.
"Once it's invested we get the returns on that and reinvest it, so it can go further and we can be more imaginative."
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the deals signalled a dramatic power shift.
"Everyone in these eight core cities will feel the benefits - from young people looking for jobs, to businesses looking to expand," he said.
"Over the coming months, we are transferring more and more power from Whitehall to these cities.
"They are the economic powerhouses of England - so it makes sense that the cities decide for themselves how to boost their local economies."