£70m of unspent Commonwealth Games funding to be targeted on levelling up Birmingham and West Midlands
Birmingham and wider region set to benefit from extra money thanks to the Commonwealth Games.
Around £70m of unspent Commonwealth Games funding is to be used to realise the Games' legacy ambitions, help level up and grow the West Midlands economy and boost its trade and tourism sectors.
The Government will provide the money, which is £10m more than originally announced, to the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to help enhance and amplify the positive legacy of the Games across the entire region.
The WMCA Board has agreed to allocate just under £39m to bolster the economy, trade and tourism and support initiatives set out in the region’s recently launched economic blueprint Plan for Growth.
Another £20.8m will be used to help tackle inequalities in the region’s more deprived communities including encouraging participation in sports and physical activity. Just over £4m will be used to support the region’s culture and heritage sector and programmes to improve environmental sustainability and people’s wellbeing will also get £4m.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, led the discussions between council leaders and the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport to secure the agreement that the unspent Birmingham 2022 budget would be handed back to the West Midlands to enhance the legacy of the Games by boosting its reputation as a world-class host for major events, increasing people’s access to sport and culture, and by driving inward investment and tourism.
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council and a member of the WMCA Board, added: “As the proud host city, Birmingham thrived in the global spotlight during the Commonwealth Games. It’s great news that the entire region will benefit as a result of this additional money that will enable us to enhance the work that is already taking place to ensure there is a long-lasting and wide-ranging legacy.
“Everyone should benefit from the success of the Games and we now have a clear region-wide plan to make that happen. That includes bidding to host more major events, including the European Athletics Championships which will be held in Birmingham in 2026, encouraging residents to participate in physical activity, offering support to grassroots sporting and cultural organisations, and businesses, and providing skills training in support of the region’s Plan for Growth.”
The Mayor said:
“Last summer, our region played host to the spectacular Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games - a wonderful moment of collective celebration for millions both at home and abroad. Despite the challenges inherent in delivering a project of such scale, the Games actually came in under budget and I’m pleased that the Government has agreed to enable the West Midlands to retain this underspend.
“This news is not only a real vote of confidence in the ability of local leadership to deliver but also means we have tens of millions of pounds to spend on improving the lives of people right across our region and ensuring the Games leave a lasting legacy in the months and years ahead.”
As part of the original Games Legacy planning, Birmingham 2022 organising partners had already undertaken significant work in drawing up programmes and initiatives even before this additional Legacy Fund money was confirmed.
Initiatives expected to be delivered by the Legacy Fund include maximising the Business and Tourism Programme that ran in conjunction with the Games and saw trade events with a host of leading Commonwealth nations including India, Canada, Australia and Malaysia.
The Fund will also be used by the West Midlands Growth Company to provide intensive support for high-growth Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs).
Other priorities include financial support for the bidding and hosting of major events such as the European Athletics Championship, initiatives that drive new jobs and improve people’s skills and the delivery of trailblazing legacy projects that bring about more inclusive communities.
The Legacy Fund will also be used for programmes to boost access to culture and heritage in the region.