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Ian Austin MP, calls for HS2 to come to the Black Country and demands renewed focus on education and skills in speech on West Midlands economy

Dudley MP Ian Austin has called for “a new industrial revolution” to attract new investment and new jobs to the West Midlands.

In a speech in the House of Commons today he said the West Midlands needed to boost skills to bring new jobs in growth areas like low carbon industries, advanced manufacturing, bio-technologies and digital media.

Austin also called for the new high speed trains planned for the HS2 line from the Midlands to London to run from a new terminal in the Black Country, near the M5/M6 junction.

Black Country Reinvestment Society (BCRS) Chief Executive, Paul Kalinauckas has criticised the Government’s report on “Boosting Finance Options for Business” for failing to promote Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) as an alternative source of funding.

Published on Friday 16 March by an industry-led working group chaired by Tim Breedon, Chief Executive of Legal and General, a leading provider of risk, savings and investment management products in the UK, the report makes several recommendations to improve access to business finance. These include introducing a Business Finance Advice Scheme and promoting corporate bonds, supply chain finance and new financial products such as mezzanine loan funds and peer to peer lending. It predicts that there will be a finance gap of between £26 billion and £59 billion for small businesses seeking funding over the next five years and warns of the significant risks involved in relying on bank lending as the sole source of finance. The report confirms that problems of supply and demand for bank lending will leave a significant funding shortfall and that the stock of bank lending has dropped over the last three years.