South: City deal confirmed for Thames Valley Berkshire

Thames Valley Berkshire LEP has welcomed news that the Thames Valley Berkshire city region has been successful in its city deal bid. 

The announcement was made on October 28 by Greg Clark, minister for cities, at a special event held at Reading Town Hall and attended by council leaders and representatives from across Berkshire.

So-called ‘city deals’ are special arrangements negotiated between central government and areas/cities that are given the powers and tools they need to drive local economic growth. Reading Borough Council was the lead authority in the region, driving forward the successful city deal bid on behalf of Thames Valley Berkshire city region.

Signatories are: Reading Borough Council, Bracknell Forest Council, Slough Borough Council, West Berkshire Council, The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Wokingham Borough Council and Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The Thames Valley Berkshire city deal centres around giving Berkshire’s young people the skills they need to access local job opportunities and helping local businesses to build the workforces they need to support growth.

A key part of the deal will be developing better pathways into work for young people through agencies working more efficiently and collaboratively underpinned by an innovative new mobile web platform ‘ElevateMe’ that has been funded by O2 and developed with young people themselves.

In addition, subject to a successful bid into the Wave 2 Business Growth Fund, the city deal bid will see government commit to provide investment for a Thames Valley Berkshire Business Growth Hub bringing coherence to the local business landscape, raising awareness and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of local and national business support schemes.

The Berkshire city deal aims include:

  • to achieve a 50% reduction in youth unemployment within three years
  • to secure £1.5 million of private sector investment to support employment and provide young people with skills
  • to generate 1,300 new employment opportunities for young people, including helping 800 to sustain work for at least six months
  • to create 1,500 new work experience placements across the region
  • to create 300 additional apprenticeships and 800 new youth contract wage incentives, which are incentive to employers, paid if they provide a young person with employment that is sustained for six months
  • to create a Thames Valley Berkshire Business Growth Hub to improve business support.

Steve Lamb, chair for Thames Valley Berkshire LEP, added: “The Thames Valley Berkshire city deal is a positive and exciting opportunity, not just for the local area but also for the sub region as it enhances ability to compete on a global level. It offers an unprecedented shift in control from Whitehall over the way in which our skills system works, so that we can make sure we have a highly-skilled workforce which corresponds with business needs in the region.”