In recent months, we have launched the £250 million midlands engine investment fund and agreed on a second devolution deal with the West Midlands combined authority.
I, too, congratulate the Secretary of State on his appointment. Does he agree that the right infrastructure must be provided to support the economic growth to which he has referred? Although he is new to his post, may I give a quick plug to a bid from my part of the world, north-east Derbyshire, for a housing infrastructure fund to regenerate the Staveley area further, and will he commit himself to reviewing that closely when he comes to make a decision?
Obviously, my hon. Friend’s particular focus is on Derbyshire. The right social and physical infrastructure is indeed vital to driving sustainable and significant housing growth, and the £5 billion housing infrastructure fund will unlock up to 600,000 homes. This is a competitive process, but I am committed to funding the projects that will have the greatest impact.
The midlands seem to be leading the way in economic growth and job creation. Will the Secretary of State join me in celebrating, with Andy Street, the West Midlands combined authority and the midlands engine, the local achievement of 6.8% of gross value added, given that the national figure is 2.4%?
I will. Andy Street and the West Midlands combined authority have been pivotal to the success of the midlands engine. The number of businesses in the west midlands has increased by 9% since 2016, and its second devolution deal includes a £53 million allocation to prepare land and deliver jobs and housing throughout the Black country, including my hon. Friend’s constituency.