Major school rebuild gets underway

Major school rebuild gets underwayConstruction work at Mesne Lea Primary School in Salford has started, paving the way for 39 more schools in the North West to be rebuilt under the government’s priority school building programme (PSBP).

The school is 1 of worth £2.4 billion, which will address the needs of 260 of the schools in England in the worst condition.

Thanks to the PSBP, pupils and teachers attending the school are set to benefit from a £3.9 million, fit-for-purpose rebuild that will improve the existing outdated facilities.

The new 2-storey primary school will include a large multi-purpose hall, and a shared teaching space between reception and nursery for combined groups.

Schools Minister David Laws said: “The start of construction work at Mesne Lea Primary School marks a key milestone for the priority school building programme in the North West and an exciting phase in the development of the school.

Delivering great new schools will help to build a stronger economy and a fairer society, so that every young person across the region can get on in life.

Vital building work is taking place at schools in the worst state across the country. We are making good progress with 16 school buildings now open – 55 are under construction and the remaining projects are well into the development or planning stages.”.

Record funding for seaside towns to kick-start jobs and boost the trades

Record funding for seaside towns to kick-start jobs and boost the tradesSeaside attractions across England are to benefit from a record £36 million government investment to boost growth in coastal areas.

Blackpool’s iconic illuminations are one of many seaside attractions across England to benefit from a record £36 million government investment to boost growth in coastal areas.

The money – from the Coastal Communities Fund – will support projects that will create nearly 3,000 jobs and almost 1,500 apprenticeships and training places.

Coastal Communities Minister Penny Mordaunt said: “Backing our coastal towns so they can rise up and drive forward their local economies is a key part of our long-term economic plan to secure a brighter future for Britain.

This money will help create jobs, boost skills and open up new business opportunities, benefitting hard-working people in coastal communities across the country.

These fantastic projects demonstrate the creativity, enterprise and passion needed to help seaside towns become year round destinations that people are proud to live and work in.”

Supporting coastal communities to unlock their enormous potential, boost local economies and contribute to the wider area is an important part of the government’s long-term economic plan.

Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “I created the Coastal Communities Fund because, as someone who grew up on a small island, I know how much difference targeted investment can make to people’s lives.

Overall, hundreds of communities across the UK will benefit, creating jobs and making sure that some of our most remote and fragile communities share in the economic recovery.”

Projects to benefit include:

Blackpool’s world famous illuminations receive nearly £2 million to help create new light shows that will become a major tourist attraction and create and support nearly 550 new jobs

Tate St Ives will get £3.8 million to help extend the art gallery so it can welcome 76,000 new visitors a year to the area and create more than 200 local jobs

a cycle and walking path in Dawlish linking the town centre with the iconic Exe Estuary Trail tourist route and designed to increase visitor numbers will receive £1.3 million and create more than 35 local jobs

Scarborough’s historic market will get £2.7 million to refurbish the market and create space for 30 new businesses creating more than 80 jobs and apprenticeships

Help to boost small house builders

The Scottish GovernmentA £30 million scheme in Scotland will launch for people to buy new homes from small and medium sized house builders that will boost the construction sector.

The Scottish Government’s Help to Buy (Scotland) Small Developers scheme will spread support more widely across the housebuilding industry by helping buyers who want a new property built by one of around 170 smaller developers.

Under Help to Buy, the Scottish Government takes an equity stake of between 10% and 20% of the value of the property which can be repaid at any time.

4,100 homes have been bought through Help To Buy (Scotland) in the last 15 months. The additional £30 million in 2015-16, on top of the original £100 million, will help a further 750 homebuyers.

House builders have to register with the scheme – currently around 170 are classed as small builders and 20 are defined as large builders.

During a visit to a new development in Leven, Fife, under construction by Campion Homes, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:“The Scottish Government is supporting the housebuilding industry and Help to Buy (Scotland) is one of the creative ways we are stimulating new development, opening up the market to thousands of house buyers.

Over 4,100 homes have been bought in the last 15 months, many from larger builders, with smaller and medium-sized developers seeing a smaller share of sales.

So this new support of £30 million will be ringfenced to support purchases from 170 smaller building companies that develop thousands of quality homes across the country.

These are often in remote locations and keep much needed jobs and skills in rural areas, while having a positive knock on impact on the wider economy.”

Boris Johnson to turn empty properties into affordable homes

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson is forming a partnership with Big Issue Invest to renovate empty properties into new affordable homes, whilst creating work opportunities and boosting the trades.

The Mayor has awarded a £10 million loan from his Housing Covenant to Big Issue Invest who help small community organisation’s to renovate empty homes or buildings to convert them into good quality affordable housing for Londoners to rent or part buy.

The funding will revolve over a 10-year period and result in up to 400 empty homes being transformed into good quality low cost housing. In addition it will provide long term unemployed people, veterans and out of work young people from across London the opportunity of employment and training in construction.

The Mayor’s Housing Covenant supports organisations proposing innovative ways of delivering affordable housing through a Revolving Fund and is one of a number of housing schemes the Mayor is delivering to boost affordable housing, stimulate building and fast track the delivery of thousands of much needed new homes.

The proportion of empty homes in the capital has fallen dramatically under the Mayor, and at 0.7 per cent is now at the lowest level since the 1970s.  Over 5,000 empty homes have been brought back into use through GLA housing programmes since 2008.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “With the huge demand for housing it’s essential we get empty properties back into use, which is why I’m helping innovative projects renovate them back into much needed affordable homes.

Big Issue Invest are masters of boosting community social enterprise and delivering key employment and training skills to the homeless and unemployed people who need our extra support. This funding sits alongside my affordable home programme which is on track to deliver 100,000 new low cost homes across the city.”

Speaking about the Fund, Big Issue Group’s Chair, Nigel Kershaw said “This is really exciting, the Fund helps to extend The Big Issue’s mission of preventing and dismantling poverty and creating opportunity.

That we are offering homes and employment opportunities to vulnerable people makes this so important to us, as it’s all about preventing people ending up on the streets.”

Jobs and growth to be at the heart of city devolution

Jobs and growth to be at the heart of city devolutionTransport and city leaders from Birmingham, Leeds, London, Greater Manchester and Sheffield have come together to set out how transport funding reforms could transform the prospects of the UK economy.

London’s Transport Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy has thrown his support behind a new independent report which calls for reforms that would ensure a shift in power from Whitehall, enabling the creation of jobs across the UK and economic growth for the whole country.

Sir Peter Hendy said: “The current system of transport evaluation was developed in an era of under-investment, where governments managed the decline of cities. We are now in a very different world, where cities are the drivers of the country’s future growth.

We need a new system that enables cities to work together to realise their full economic potential. For that we need more control over the tax revenue we raise and changes in the way in which the real financial return of transport investment is evaluated.

If we are given the freedom to do so we will create new jobs and growth that will benefit the whole country.”

The report, which was commissioned by Transport for London and Transport for Greater Manchester, has been developed and delivered by leading economic consultants Volterra.

It states that the current approach to the evaluation and funding of transport projects is likely to lead to ‘damaging underinvestment’ unless it is tackled and that pay back in terms of economic growth and jobs would be optimised if the approach were changed.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Greater financial freedoms for our cities are absolutely central to their ability to better plan and finance the infrastructure they need to flourish.

Transport is no exception to this argument. It is a vital key to unlock the door to wider growth in our economy, helping to spur jobs, new homes and regeneration.

Working in partnership with other major cities I have been making the case for Whitehall to give us a greater say over our own futures and in turn boost the prosperity of UK plc.”

Go-ahead for Walney offshore wind farm

Go-ahead for Walney offshore wind farmWalney Extension offshore wind farm in the Irish Sea has been given the go-ahead from the government that will boost economic growth and create new jobs.

If built, the new wind frm could triple the size of Walney Offshore wind farm, already one of the biggest wind farms in the world.

The wind farm is expected to create 230 new jobs over the four year construction period and around 185 jobs annually during the expected 25 year lifespan.

Once built, the wind farm would generate enough electricity to power over half a million homes.

The decision underlines how the government’s policies have made the UK the best place in the world to invest in offshore wind.

The Walney Extension project is one of five offshore wind projects that signed an early Contract for Difference under the new system for low-carbon electricity generation.

As well as being the first contracts awarded under the system, they mark a new stage in the growth of the sector, bringing green jobs and growth across the UK and supporting cleaner and more secure energy.

Thousands of businesses secure public sector contracts

The Scottish GovernmentThe number of public sector contracts won by Scottish companies through the Public Contracts Scotland portal has more than doubled from 6,000 to over 12,000 in two years, thanks to measures to simplify procurement processes.

Improvements to procurement procedures are giving companies the opportunity to gain access to public contracts and the £10 billion the public sector spends annually.

In addition, the introduction of a community benefit clause, which makes training, employment and investment in local communities a contractual requirement, has created over 3,500 apprenticeships and training opportunities since 2008.

Next month the Scottish Government’s online advertising portal PCS will merge with the Glasgow Business Portal to make it even easier for businesses to search for and bid for all public contract opportunities in Scotland.

Currently there are over 65,000 supplier registrations with PCS of which 86 per cent are small and medium sized businesses.

Speaking at the National Procurement Conference in Glasgow, Finance Secretary John Swinney underlined the Scottish Government’s commitment to making Scotland the best place in Europe to do business with the public sector.

He said:“Scotland’s model of procurement is recognised internationally as a benchmark of excellence. Measures to simplify and streamline processes are giving thousands of businesses across Scotland an opportunity to flourish.

“Through our community benefit clauses, we have given communities a guarantee that they will get something back from businesses operating in their area. As a result, thousands of young people are being trained and equipped with the skills they need for the jobs of the future.”