The West of England Combined Authority will meet to discuss its budget for 2018/19 at 10am on Friday February 2, at the Kingswood Civic Centre in South Gloucestershire.
The Combined Authority is chaired by the regional Mayor, Tim Bowles, and is made up of the leaders and Mayor from the three councils in the region – Bath & North East Somerset (Leader, Cllr Tim Warren), Bristol City Council (Mayor Marvin Rees) and South Gloucestershire Council (Leader, Cllr Matthew Riddle). The Chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Professor Steve West, also attends committee meetings.
The 2018/19 budget sets out plans to invest:
- £17.5m into highways maintenance and transport improvement schemes.
- £14.7m for continued support for concessionary fares, community transport grants and bus information services.
- £2.3m for the Innovation Pilot which will support social housing tenants already in work into secure, more meaningful and better-paid careers.
The budget report also looks further ahead to 20/21 and sets out indicative investment over the next four years as follows:
- £34.2m for major new schemes aimed at getting the region moving, and securing more homes and jobs for local people. £6.5m has already been invested into developing business cases
- £93m to support the emerging regional strategy – the Combined Authority will seek match funding for this to support projects that drive economic growth for all, as identified in the emerging regional strategy. This will include investing in transport – with a focus on suburban rail and more regular services on key routes – as well as homes, digital connectivity, business support and improving workforce skills.
Mayor Tim Bowles said: “This is a budget that will help us start investing in things that affect our residents every day – we will be making significant allocations to improve transport connections, homes, skills for work and to support businesses. Planning for these at regional level makes sense – roads don’t end at council boundaries and many of us live work and travel across the region.
“Devolution is giving us an opportunity to be ambitious for our region at a scale not seen before. We are a successful region already, with a track record of success – by working more closely together we can achieve so much more to benefit people who live in the West of England.”
The budget also sets out that an additional £1m capacity fund, over two years, is coming from government to support delivering schemes in the region.
Further funding is expected, including £80m committed by the government for transport initiatives, as announced in the autumn statement. The Combined Authority also has an ambitious bid in to government for additional money for new homes across the region.
It is anticipated that, subject to ongoing discussions with the Skills Funding Agency, WECA will take on responsibility for the 19+ Adult Education Budget from 2019/20. Further transitional funding may be allocated directly by the Government to support work in this area.
The budget will also be discussed by the Combined Authority’s Scrutiny Committee, at 10.30am on Wednesday January 31 at The Council Chamber, City Hall, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TR.
The meeting papers can be found at https://www.westofengland-ca.gov.uk/meetings/
The meeting won’t be webcast live but will be available to watch on the WECA website from Monday February 5.