Helping unemployed young people into work and launching major projects which will shape the future of Birmingham are among the highlights of an annual report given today by Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, Development and the Economy.
Addressing the authority’s Economy and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Tahir Ali highlighted the wide range of work undertaken within his portfolio over the past year, as well as looking to the future of the city.
One of the highlights of last year included the launch of the Birmingham Jobs Fund (BJF) “offer to employers” who took on young people in either apprentice or non-apprentice roles, which to date has helped 2,104 young people find work. In August, the Government withdrew its Wage Incentive Scheme, which had bolstered the BJF, with Cllr Ali and Cabinet Member for Skills, Learning and Culture Cllr Penny Holbrook approving changes to the BJF to ensure that the necessary support continues to be available to those who need it the most.
Cllr Ali also highlighted a number of major projects taking place across Birmingham which are designed to benefit those who live, work or travel in the city. These include the City Centre Enterprise Zone, which provides a long-term approach to investment to drive forward economic growth up to 2022/23, which has made significant progress in 2014, including the approval of Enterprise Zone funding for the Highways Pinch Points and One Station projects.
Other key projects include Birmingham Connected, the council’s 20-year vision for the future of transport in the city, as well as the Paradise redevelopment, which has just begun.
Housing has also played an important role in Cllr Ali’s portfolio, with 668 new rented homes completed through the Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust (BMHT) and a further 300 to be completed before the end of 2014/15. The council was also awarded a further £840,000 from the Government, in addition to the Affordable Housing Programme already agreed, bringing the total grant funding awarded to the authority through this programme to £10.7 million.
Cllr Ali said: “The primary function of my cabinet portfolio is to promote Birmingham as a prosperous city and I am pleased that we are making such positive progress in this respect. Birmingham is the most entrepreneurial UK city outside London, with more than 18,000 new businesses registered in the last year – 2,000 more than in 2013. The Greater Birmingham area also attracted more foreign direct investment in 2013/14 than any other area in the UK.
“We have made great strides in reducing unemployment, particularly among young people. Overall, unemployment in Birmingham currently stands at 6.9 per cent – its lowest level since the beginning of the recession, although we recognise that this is still unacceptably high and will continue working towards lowering this percentage even further.
“Looking to the future, we already have a number of exciting long-term projects under way, including Birmingham Connected, the Paradise redevelopment and the Metro extension, which will change the way we move around Birmingham to the benefit of those who live and work here, as well as visitors to our wonderful city.”