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WYCA Chair responds to Comprehensive Spending Review

Cllr Peter Box, West Yorkshire Combined Authority ChairResponding to the Chancellor's Comprehensive Spending Review, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Chair Cllr Peter Box said: “While there was positive top-level news in areas such as large-scale transport development, house building and initiatives to support the economy such as an increase to the Local Growth Fund which match the Combined Authority’s ambitions, austerity cuts in funding are going to affect local people and services and potentially hamper growth.

“For example on transport the announcement of £200m for smartcards and further funding for Transport for the North means we can build on the work already being led by West Yorkshire Combined Authority on behalf of Transport for the North to develop smart and contact-less card travel for the north of England. And spending on large-scale infrastructure projects such as HS2, Trans-Pennine electrification and York Station will provide much-need improvements to connections between our cities and towns.

“But the chancellor’s significant austerity cuts to DfT and DCLG funding means that spending to support the every-day local transport that underpins local businesses, could be cut. This will mean people and communities being cut off from vital local services and facilities and missing out on education, training and employment opportunities.

“On housing, the chancellor’s plans to enable the private sector to build 400,000 new homes, half of which will be starter homes for first-time buyers, is positive when businesses struggle to recruit and retain talent due to a lack of affordable housing. However it seems Councils are going to have to fund the 20% discount for starter homes over the next four years, which will mean an additional £3bn bill for councils. And it does nothing to tackle the lack of affordable property in the rental market and the huge numbers on council waiting lists and the capping of eligible housing benefit rents will hit councils and housing associations.

“We still need to study the full details of the Spending Review but councils across the area covered by the Chancellor’s Northern Powerhouse have already been forced to introduce significant cuts and stand to lose out again. If Mr Osborne’s commitment to ending the ‘geographical imbalance’ behind the north-south divide, we need to see it reflected in local authority grant settlements in December.
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