Council and business leaders have welcomed the news that the Leeds City Region is to be given over £1 billion by the Government to help grow the region’s economy and create thousands of jobs.
Responding to the announcement Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Cllr Peter Box and Councillor Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council, said:
“We have been lobbying hard for this for a very long time. We are glad that the government has now listened to our exceptionally strong case to put the financial power in our hands to drive our ambitions in a way that could be truly transformational for local growth.
“All this could not and would not be possible without the very strong and powerful support we have received from our public and private sector partners and together we will work to forge a future of real prospects for our people and industries. We aim to unleash the economic potential of the North and in particular in West Yorkshire and the Leeds City Region.
“This must be just the start of more powers and resources being localised. With the right infrastructure and investment, along with well-planned, sustainable skills training and job creation to support our push for growth, we can transform our city’s and our neighbours’ economic potential into an economic powerhouse.”
Roger Marsh, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and West Yorkshire Combined Authority Board Member said:
“This is a game-changing moment for the Leeds City Region. We have worked tirelessly with businesses and partners on showcasing our region’s immense potential to play a leading role in rebalancing the UK economy.
“The scale of our settlement, combined with the additional freedoms and flexibilities we have secured through this historic Deal, demonstrate the government’s faith in this powerhouse economy, as well as in the strength of our partnership, our governance arrangements and our readiness to deliver.
“Have we got everything we asked for? No. Have we got enough to begin realising our ambitions for transformational growth? Absolutely. We have shown we can deliver – now we need to deliver at scale, maximising the full range of funding and investment options and working with our partners to implement our Strategic Economic Plan in its entirety, transforming our economy into a sustained net contributor to national wealth. “
The £1bn Deal includes a £573m settlement between 2015 and 2021 from the government’s Local Growth Fund to deliver the ambitious growth agenda outlined in the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP). Unlike anywhere else in the country, a further £420m has been secured to deliver a West Yorkshire plus Transport Fund in a 20-year agreement. Combined with other new funding streams, this significant step towards devolution provides £1bn of government investment to unlock jobs and growth.
In addition to transport, Local Growth Fund investment will support economic projects and programmes across all four of the LEP’s strategic priorities, with benefits for the entire City Region.
A total of £73m has been allocated in the Deal for projects beginning in April 2015, including housing and development sites in Bradford, Leeds, Wakefield, York, Halifax and Skipton. £8m has been secured in 2015/16 to extend the LEP’s successful Business Growth Programme, which has already enabled over 250 SMEs to grow and create over 2,000 jobs across the City Region. An Energy Hub to develop local energy infrastructure, and a Skills Capital programme providing investment in colleges to develop a flexible, skilled workforce, will also be delivered through the Deal.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“For too long our economy has been too London-focused and too centralised. Growth deals will help change all that.
“They are about firing up our great cities, towns and counties so they can become powerhouses.
“By trusting local people, backing business and investing in infrastructure, skills and housing, we can create thousands of new jobs.
“And that means more economic security, peace of mind and a brighter future for hard-working people across the country.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:
“We are ending a culture of Whitehall knows best. Decisions over spending on infrastructure, business support and housing are being made at a truly local level. It will help end our over-reliance on the banks and the City of London, and generate growth, jobs, and ambition in towns and cities all across England.
“Growth Deals will create thousands of jobs, provide incredible new training opportunities for young people, build thousands of new homes and improve transport links across the country for people and their families; building a stronger economy and a fairer society.”
Full information on the deal (opens in new window)