STOURBRIDGE MP Suzanne Webb has welcomed the £1.5 billion West Midlands devolution deal announced in the budget.

The Chancellor gave the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) wide ranging new powers to level up the region.

Highlights include giving mayor Andy Street 100 per cent business rates retention for 10 years, worth £450 million, more control over transport infrastructure, more control over housing and brownfield regeneration and a departmental style funding arrangement with Whitehall.

The Tory MP said: “I thank the Chancellor for listening to the mayor, myself and other West Midlands MPs to come up with this trailblazing deal that will put power in local hands and away from Whitehall.

“I have repeatedly made the case to ministers that West Midlanders know what is best for where they live and work and we know best how to level up the region and promote prosperity in the decades to come.

“In Andy Street we have just the person to drive this deal forward and it will make a huge difference. It is right we deepen local leadership and accountability across the West Midlands too so people know who is making the decisions and it is not some nameless civil servant in London.

“Gone are the days when we will have to compete for levelling up funds. We can now set our objectives knowing we have funding in place right here to regenerate the areas that need it most like Lye in my constituency.

“In unison with the West Midlands being an Investment Zone and its priorities of developing life sciences, creative industries, digital technology advanced manufacturing and green industries, we now have a chance to really fire up our economy and continue to see the West Midlands as the industrial heart of the UK.”

Suzanne also welcomed investment in childcare with parents of all children over nine months and under five to be given 30 hours' free childcare. The sector was also given further support with a 30 per cent uplift in hourly funding support for nurseries.

In another major move, the Chancellor also abolished parents on Universal Credit having to pay upfront for childcare - to help women get back into work.

Suzanne said: "Alongside other incentives like abolishing tax penalties on pension pots, training for people returning to work and wrap-around care for primary schools, we have seen a back to work budget aiming squarely to tackle productivity issues and labour shortages that are hampering the economy."