Nearly 1,400 Coventry and Warwickshire residents have secured jobs, improved their skills or started a business due to schemes initiated by the Government’s Levelling Up funding, according to a new report.

Levelling Up was launched across the UK in 2019 with the aim of investing Government money into infrastructure projects to support economic recovery in local areas to improve economic performance and reduce long-term inequalities.

The SmartRegion report, which contains findings from research and engagements contributed by the Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub, Coventry City Council, Warwickshire County Council, and other local and national business support organisations, has highlighted the strides taken in tackling inequalities in Coventry and Warwickshire.

In Coventry, partnership working across the city has been focused on improving economic growth and improving health and social care.

This has been achieved by launching The Coventry Job Shop with partners across the city to successfully connect residents and communities to businesses and job opportunities.

It has also included developments at Friargate and City Centre South to create new job opportunities, new homes, a new hotel, and retail and leisure space.

Coventry City Council also delivered the £680,000 Community Renewal Fund (CRF) which supported the growth of the creative and tourism sectors as part of funding that was channelled through the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Throughout 2022, the pilot supported almost 300 businesses in the creative and tourism sectors to access support and grants to encourage growth and become more resilient, and to further contribute to the economic legacy of the UK City of Culture 2021 and the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

And in the Budget, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced Coventry is being awarded £5 million of capital funding to support local culture projects as part of the £100 million national announcement for Levelling Up Culture funding.

Within Warwickshire, Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council has previously secured funding through Levelling Up towards a physical activity hub replacing the current Bedworth Leisure Centre. The Spring Budget announced a further £20 million for the town of Bedworth to invest in local regeneration projects.

Warwickshire County Council received £2.7 million for three successful CRF projects in 2021. One project supported the economically inactive and unemployed people into employment through cognitive and mindset training through mentoring with a strong focus on mental health and wellbeing.

Another project has assisted people into employment by providing training and support focused on self-employment skills.

The third scheme funded activity to target hard-to-reach, unemployed and disadvantaged groups through breakaway camps, youth clubs and rural career workshops. Providing learning through experience and discovering hidden skills applicable to the working environment.

Overall, 681 Warwickshire residents were supported towards employment, to enter education or training to gain a qualification, start a business, begin job-searching, or secure a job.

A total of 204 people were helped to enter education or training and 31 new businesses were created.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund forms part of Levelling Up and all areas in Coventry and Warwickshire have received allocations to deliver activities focused on supporting businesses, people and skills, and delivering regenerative enhancements to communities and places until 2025.

Craig Humphrey, Chief Executive at Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub, said although a significant number of people in Coventry and Warwickshire had benefited from Levelling Up projects, a different approach was needed.

He said: “It has been recognised that the Levelling Up programme needs to be broad, deep, and long-term if it is to be successful in really tackling and reducing inequalities across the UK as well as in our local area.

“Greater devolution of funding and powers to local communities and more flexible local approaches to delivery may ultimately prove the best way of reducing inequalities.”

Caption: Craig Humphrey, Chief Executive of Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub