WMCA: Funding Awarded to Improving Understanding of the West Midlands Night Time Economy

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A £300,000 fund has been awarded from the Treasury’s Economic Data Innovation Fund (EDIF) to the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and partners to help developnew datasets and analysis of the night-time economy (NTE).

A consortium of public bodies – the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), the Office for National Statistics (ONS), and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) – will work together to improve data collection and analysis of the NTE through a national pilot scheme.  

The NTE, only recently part of wider economic studies, contributed £93.7 billion to the UK economy in 2023, according to report published last year by the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA). This was down from 5.1% and £116.1 billion in 2019. 

The Economic Data Innovation Fund (EDIF) is a fund from Treasury to support high growth research and development companies, bringing new approaches to analysing economic data. 
The funding won by WMCA, and other public bodies, is a practical example of increased devolution powers by both GMCA and WMCA through their respective deeper devolution deals. The deal gives local leaders control over spending on devolved areas, marking a new chapter for English devolution.  

This enables devolved government bodies, such as the WMCA, to better plan and fund investment to create a fairer, greener and better-connected West Midlands. 

Andy Street, Mayor for the West Midlands, and Chair of the WMCA, said: “Almost 30% of workers in the West Midlands are employed in the night-time economy so it’s importance to the wider prosperity of the region should not be underestimated. 

“This pilot scheme will generate valuable data and intelligence to help shape actions and interventions that can support ournight-time sectors in the months and years ahead. 

“That support will be crucial as the sector continues its recover from the challenges of Covid and more recently from rising costs, particularly for energy. 

“The funding being made available for this study is yet another example of the practical benefits of the devolution deals the government signed withWMCA and GMCA last year and will contribute to our regional and national understanding of the night-time economy.” 

Alex Claridge, the WMCA’s night economy adviser, said: “As the night-time economy continues to battle recovery from the unholy triumvirate of COVID, inflationary costs and the cost of living there has never been a more vital time to build a deep understanding. For too long, policy rests on broad stroke assumptions and lower-quality data.

“We are excited to collaborate with DLUHC, ONS and Greater Manchester Combined Authority on delivering meaningful, timely work toward a better connected and better understood sector.

“This will lay the foundations for focused and detailed work, as well as, I hope, support the many hard-working and brilliant organisations already engaged with moving this vital sector forward.” 

Becky Tinsley, ONS Local Lead, said: “The ONS Local service is our bespoke offer to local, regional, and national leaders. We provide analytical support, advice on how to navigate the current landscape of available data and capability building activities.

“A crucial part of our work is to deliver bespoke projects to fill local data gaps -such as on the important topic of the night-time economy. Close working with other bodies enables local information and expertise to be combined with granular data to maximise analytical insight, leading to better decision making locally.” 

The funding will be used for three strands of work. It will help to create new Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes for businesses associated with the NTE. This new classification will help provide better data to help economic policy.  

The fund will also be used to develop a data model to track the NTE of regions in the UK and help develop an Artificial Intelligence model to help identify trends within successful planning applications and night-time businesses. 

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