Westminster Social Policy Forum

Conferences that are scheduled to take place before September will be conducted online.
The format will mirror physical conferences organised by the Forum with speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish.
The conferences will be chaired and there will be opportunities for delegate questions and comments.
We will be contacting all participants in advance of each conference with full information and guidance on how to take part.
There will be some exceptions where conferences will be postponed, for instance those that would largely involve key stakeholders in the NHS or emergency services.
All participants affected by this will be informed as soon as possible.
If you’d like to speak to us over the phone about any booking-related queries, please call one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7538736244

Next steps for the Midlands Engine - priorities for growth, infrastructure and the refreshed strategy

Morning, Thursday, 18th June 2020



***Taking Place Online***

This conference focuses on next steps for the Midlands Engine.

Areas for discussion:

  • Delivery of local industrial strategies (LIS) across the region and how best to balance economic growth;
  • Priorities for the Midlands Engine Internationalisation Strategy - with a focus on developing strategic partnerships, global trade and attracting foreign direct investment;
  • Strategies for developing dynamism and skills in the regional economy:
    • Supporting local authorities and industries in the region, looking at innovation and utilising research strengths areas such as civil engineering, manufacturing and space technology;
    • Skills development, including priorities for the refreshed strategy on productivity and wages.
  • What local communities and businesses need from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, to effectively replace and build upon EU Structural Funding;
  • Infrastructure development, finance and delivery:
    • Regional connectivity and HS2 - following the publication of the Oakervee Review of HS2;
    • Regional transport - the ongoing work of Midlands Connect in developing the other six schemes within the Midlands Engine Rail Programme;
    • Digital connectivity - developments in increasing mobile coverage and the roll out of full-fibre broadband, and the recent 5G pilot initiatives;
    • Housing  - priorities for meeting demand across the region;
    • Environmental priorities and transition to net zero - how to ensure that infrastructure supports current aims, including developing eco-friendly homes and improving public transport; and
    • Funding of future projects - what more can be done to drive public and private investment to the region.

Developments that are relevant to the discussion:

It takes place with:

  • The forthcoming refreshed Midlands Engine Strategy - due to focus on regional collaboration and growing the economy;
  • The Midlands Rail Hub Project receiving £20m worth of investment in the Budget, meaning that an Outline Business Case can now be made - with more detailed planning on design and costing; and
  • The National Infrastructure Strategy and the Infrastructure Finance Review, both due to be published.

The agenda:

  • The future of the Midlands Engine and the refreshed strategy;
  • Creating optimum conditions for economic growth in the Midlands:
    • Implementing local industrial strategies - raising productivity, utilising data and engaging effectively with business;
    • Attracting strategic partnerships, global trade and foreign direct investment;
    • Strategies for creating a dynamic regional economy - achieving excellence in research and innovation;
    • The Midlands Engine Skills Strategy - tackling low skills, growing sector strengths and investing in workforce; and
    • Supporting manufacturing and high performing industries in the Engine.
  • Financing and developing infrastructure to support economic growth:
    • Meeting local housing needs and supporting growth - increasing supply, improving affordability and making best use of land;
    • Priorities for regional connectivity and HS2 post Oakervee review;
    • The future for digital infrastructure in the Midlands - accessibility, full-fibre networks and 5G test beds;
    • Assessing strategies for decarbonisation, improving biodiversity net-gain and enhancing natural capital; and
    • The future for project finance following the Infrastructure Finance Review.
  • Delivering the Refreshed Midlands Engine Strategy.

Policy officials attending

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stake holders.

Especially with this one. Places have been reserved by officials from the Cabinet OfficeDCMSDefraDepartment for EducationDepartment for International TradeDepartment for TransportEnvironment AgencyMHCLGOfwat and the Planning Inspectorate.

This conference will be online***

  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish
  • opportunities for delegate questions and comments
  • a permanent record of the proceedings will be made available to all delegates afterwards, including a recording of the addresses, all slides that have been made available, and further materials

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference


Alex Norris MP

Member of Parliament for Nottingham North


Ann Carruthers

Director, Environment and Transport, Leicestershire County Council

Sajeeda Rose

Chief Executive Officer, D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership

Grant Peggie

Director, Venture Capital Solutions, British Business Bank

Professor Alec Cameron

Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Aston University and Board Member, Midlands Innovation Board

Angela Joyce

Chief Executive Officer, WCG and Midlands Engine Skills Board Chair

Christine Ashton

Executive Director - Housing, emh group

Robert Franks

Managing Director, WM5G