A Strong and Inclusive Economy
Sandwell is the third largest borough in the West Midlands with a population of almost 330,000 and a £6.3 billion economy, the largest in the Black Country. But for our size our economy is not yet punching its weight and reaching its full potential.
We will work together to create a strong and growing Sandwell, built on fairness. An economy where no one is left behind, that benefits everyone and where we build on the collective strengths of our community.
Sandwell's Inclusive Economy Deal
Sandwell’s Inclusive Economy Deal will be truly ground-breaking. Developed using evidence from the new State of the Borough report and extensive consultation, the deal will be a complementary document to this plan. It will be co-produced by residents, the council, businesses and the voluntary sector. As a result, it will contain the commitments made by all these groups alongside the council’s detailed commitments.
As part of this approach, we are committed to build our collective Community Wealth. Resources flow through the borough every day, many of these resources help make Sandwell strong and grow. But a lot of our resources also flow out of the borough through the decisions we make. If we build our local resources and spend more of our money locally, this could make a huge impact on our local economy and our overall wellbeing. Our Community Wealth programme sets out the council’s commitment to achieving more through our buying and economic power.
The council currently spends 15% of its contract money with suppliers in Sandwell. We want to do better. We are committed to leading our partners in Sandwell to make the most of all our assets, spend local wherever possible and make long-term investment decisions that benefit our borough. In this way we hope to retain more people, business and money in Sandwell, enabling us to grow and prosper from within.
Putting Sandwell on the map
We have many exciting transformational opportunities to raise Sandwell’s profile by capitalising on major new projects. The Commonwealth Games comes to Birmingham in 2022 and we are very excited to be hosting the swimming and diving events at the new Sandwell Aquatics Centre. The build for this incredible new leisure offer for Smethwick and the whole borough is under way.
We want to use the Commonwealth Games as a catalyst for economic, wellbeing and cultural development, incorporating Sandwell Valley and other cultural venues as linked visitor attractions. Creating our Games Community will be a key theme in the run up to the Games.
We have aspirations to make Sandwell Valley a major cultural and tourist destination and we will work with our partners to make the best use of our canal network. To facilitate this, we will be developing culture and tourism strategies that will set out our key objectives and the outcomes we aspire to achieve.
Sandwell is also part of the UNESCO Black Country Geo Park project and this will be yet another opportunity to promote and celebrate Sandwell’s unique history and geology.
We will work with our health partners to deliver the Midland Metropolitan University Hospital and to maximise the significant regeneration benefits to the wider surrounding area. We will also deliver major new education facilities for Sandwell, for example a university presence and a facility for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. We want to work more closely with West Bromwich Albion Football Club and its international brand to develop shared opportunities.
A prosperous business sector
Sandwell has a diverse business community with strengths in manufacturing, logistics, health and social care as well as retail and wholesale. Those sectors together provide over 71,500 jobs and Sandwell is home to some fastgrowing, high employment businesses.
Whilst the business community in Sandwell is growing, we don’t think we’re growing fast enough. We want to strengthen our business sector so that local people can benefit from jobs that are stable and well paid. A thriving economy will attract new and small businesses and help keep Sandwell’s employers in the area.
As a council, we really value our local businesses and want to continue to deliver high quality support that helps them thrive and prosper. Part of this is ensuring that local people have the skills and knowledge to fill any vacancies by offering local training and development opportunities – we want people to train in Sandwell, remain in Sandwell.
We know that giving people a real living wage and enough money in their pocket gives them stability and choice in their lives. Having good quality jobs that pay a real living wage will allow people to grow their own way out of poverty and build a stable future for themselves and their families.
Aspirations, skills and routes into jobs
We know that there is no shortage of aspiration amongst Sandwell’s young people but, as students move from Year 7 to Year 9, aspirations fall. This is because young people can’t see how to achieve their goals.
We want our young people to have access to good jobs and we will work with education providers to guide young people to the pathways that enable them to meet their aspirations. We will do this through the provision of independent advice and guidance and greater promotion and integration of Sandwell’s business community. We also know that people in work need support to upskill so that they can increase their earning potential. We want to develop plans for vulnerable groups and people who have not been engaged in learning for a significant period of time, take greater control of housing building in the borough.
This includes young people with special educational needs and disabilities, young people who have been in care as well as homeless young people, to ensure that everyone in our community has the opportunity to get well-paid, stable employment, as they transition into adulthood.
As one of the biggest local employers we want to play our part. We will offer quality work experience placements within the council. We will increase the take up of apprenticeships particularly within small businesses in Sandwell through transferring some of the apprenticeship levy to that sector. We must ensure access to opportunity in that, no matter where jobs are located in the borough, our residents have the skills and transport links to make the journey.