While the March Budget skirted around the elephant in the room (that’s BREXIT to you and me), Chancellor Philip Hammond did use his first address reiterated the ‘Midlands Engine’ – £329 million of Government investment in skills, connectivity and local growth in Middle England.
We’ve reported before on the Northern Powerhouse – another of the Government’s steps to create economic hubs outside of London – and now details of the Midlands Engine are starting to appear. For those working in the relocation industry, the announcement will herald the creation of thousands of jobs – many in specialist industries – that will tempt professionals from all over the world, as well as from within the UK.
Cities such as Birmingham, Nottingham, Coventry, Leicester, Wolverhampton and Derby will benefit from global attention in order to attract investment. In the Midlands, 11 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are coming together to create an economic superpower designed to rival London.
There’s already something called a ‘pitchbook’ being shown to potential investors around the world, detailing 33 major opportunities that, when combined, will potentially create 178,000 jobs, 32,000 new homes and 57.9 million sq ft of property space for the region. In fact, the Midlands is setting out its stall to win a total of £14 billion from global investors as part of its plan to turn itself into one of the world’s leading regional economies. In March 2017 alone, the Midlands Engine marketed £7 billion of opportunities at the global property exhibition MIPIM in Cannes, France.
The Midlands Engine will focus on five key themes – skills, innovation, transport, promoting the ‘Engine’ and finance for business. If the Midlands region matches the predicted growth rate for the UK over the next 15 years, it could create eventually 300,000 jobs and boost the national economy by £34 billion.
On the radar is a new £14 million global hub for space technology in Leicester, £6 million for the regeneration of Derby city centre, £8m to create a new teaching university in Hereford and a £25 million fund that will improve major employments sites in the Black Country.
Signs that the Midlands Engine will fire on all cylinders are already showing. The region has just topped the UK’s house price growth list, as published by Rightmove in March 2017. The online property portal said that asking prices in the East and West Midlands increased by 2.1% in March, compared to the country’s overall house price growth, which was an average of just 1.3%. As the region’s desirability increases, relocation agents can expect increased competition for rental properties, therefore working with a dedicated property finder will be more important than ever.