This page summarises the powers of the Mayor of the West Midlands and the West Midlands Combined Authority particularly in relation to housing, and sets out the latest position.
The West Midlands devolution agreement was signed between the Government and local authority leaders, local enterprise partnership (LEP) and the chairs of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) area in November 2015. A second devolution deal was announced in November 2017 which devolved further powers and funding. Finally, a housing deal was announced in March 2018.
A condition of the first devolution deal was the election of a Mayor for the region, and Conservative Andy Street was elected in May 2017, pledging to prioritise transport, housing, economic development and tackling crime.
The West Midlands Combined Authority is chaired by the Mayor and comprises the leaders of the seven constituent local authorities:
In addition the chairs of the local enterprise partnerships and ten additional local councils from the West Midlands region sit on the board with reduced voting rights.
Other than housing the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Mayor’s powers include responsibility for a devolved local transport budget, a £36.5m per year investment fund for 30 years, the 19+ adult skills budget, and joint powers with the Government to design employment support services for the hardest-to-help.
Housing in the West Midlands
The West Midlands Housing Deal, signed in March 2018, commits to building 215,000 new homes in the region by 2031. This would involve building 16,000 new homes a year (up from the recent average of 10,000 per year). There are no specific commitments around affordable housing. Access to land has been seen as a particular barrier and the West Midlands Combined Authority set up a Land Commission to report on how more land could be made available. Currently, the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and the West Midlands Housing Association Partnership (WMHAP) are in conversation regarding forming a devolution coalition, towards a joint venture to increase supply.
Unlike most other metro mayors, the Mayor of the West Midlands does not have strategic planning powers, although he does have the same devolved compulsory purchase powers as Homes England. This is likely a reflection of the administrative complexity of the combined authority area – whereby the Mayor is elected to govern seven local authorities but the combined authority covers 19, all with local plans at differing stages of development, and several sub-regional plans. The Land Commission called for a ‘single agreed spatial vision for the West Midlands, expressed in a non-statutory Spatial Framework’ to try and overcome this, although one has not yet been produced.
The second devolution deal announced in November 2017 included £6m over three years to fund a Mayoral Housing Delivery Team in the West Midlands Combined Authority to support its housing ambitions. The subsequent housing package in March 2018 announced that the West Midlands had been successful in the first stage of bidding for £250m of funding from the Housing Infrastructure Fund, and that the Government would also pass on £100m for a Land Fund to decontaminate brownfield sites.
The WMCA has received £2.3m from the Government’s Construction Skills Fund to help local people get jobs in the region’s booming construction industry.
Two hubs will be set out by spring 2019 aimed at providing onsite high quality training and practical experience for housing projects and any future construction projects. Of the fund £1.28m will be assigned to housing projects, £1.04m will be directed at infrastructure construction training. The WMCA hopes this investment will create training for 1,450 people, aiming to ensure 45% will come from underrepresented groups in the construction industry, including women and ethnic minorities. The WMCA aims to gain more than 50,000 trained construction staff by 2030 to double the contribution of construction work to the local economy. Furthermore, the hubs will be based at the new Athletes Village at Perry Barr, which after the 2022 Commonwealth Games, will be converted to provide 1,400 new homes, including social and affordable housing.
£20million of funding has been approved by the West Midlands Combined Authority to help accelerate local authority plans to revitalise town centres. The funding will be used to unlock land for regeneration in five town centres, each nominated by their respective local council: Bilston, St Thomas Quarter in Dudley, Bordesley Green in Birmingham, St Matthews Quarter in Walsall and West Bromwich (East).
"We need community hubs which people want to go to: with spacious, green meeting areas, great Wi-Fi, arts and cultural opportunities, family doctors and quality housing" said Cllr Mike Bird leader of Walsall Council.
The Mayor Andy Street said: “It's great news that we now have a £20 million war chest to regenerate these town centres. This money will allow us to buy derelict buildings and land on high streets to turn into housing, new offices or shops, and other leisure uses.”
Further town centres will be eligible for a second wave of support later in the year, building on the experience from the first wave of centres.
The housing package announces the Government’s intention to ‘explore the potential for a deal with housing associations on affordable housing to deliver more affordable homes and increase financial certainty’. The West Midlands Housing Association Partnership brings together more than 30 housing associations in the region, who between them manage over 120,000 homes in the region. They have been working closely with the combined authority since it launched in 2016. The West Midlands Housing Association Partnership Prospectus (PDF) describes the impact of housing associations in the city region and the group’s priorities.
To discuss devolution and housing in the West Midlands, please email Kate Warburton, External Affairs Manager for the region.
This page was last updated December 2018.