The bodies charged with
delivering economic growth in Leeds City Region have unveiled a new economic
plan with 10 big impact initiatives that will transform the economy and create
thousands of extra jobs over the next 20 years.
The revised Strategic Economic Plan (the Plan)
for the City Region sets out how the LEP and West Yorkshire Combined Authority
(CA) will create an additional 35,700 jobs for local people over the next 20
years, and grow the City Region economy at a faster rate than the national average.
The Plan sets out 10 “big impact” initiatives
that the LEP and CA will deliver with partners from the public and private
sectors and government. These include the ambition for a “Metro-style” public
transport network allowing people to travel across the City Region easily and
affordably by bus and rail through smart ticketing and clear, straightforward
pricing covering all forms of public transport.
Building on recent successes in increasing the
City Region’s share of inward investment, and recent growth in the region’s
data security and digital sectors, the Plan sets out an ambition of making the
City Region a leading centre for tech jobs and talent. Meanwhile reducing the
risk of flooding to homes, communities and businesses through innovative use of
the natural environment is another top priority.
Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the LEP, said: “Our
revised Plan sets out the initiatives that will take us on the next stage of
our journey towards making the City Region not just self-sufficient, but an
above average contributor to the national economy.
“It is unacceptable to me that in 2016 there are
still so many people in our region living in disadvantage, which is why we want
to balance higher levels of business growth with measures to ensure everyone in
the City Region has the opportunity of a good job and a good life. The focus of
our Plan is not just growth for growth’s sake but good growth that enables all
of our communities to feel the benefits of a strong economy.
“This plan sharpens our focus on delivering that
ambition – through the £2 billion devolved investment we’ve already secured,
and the full devolution we are negotiating with government. We’ve already
achieved a great deal through effective local leadership and partnership
working, but transforming our economy will require us to be persistent,
patient, and purposeful. By refocusing our priorities in line with the changing
economic climate we believe we’re putting ourselves in the driving seat of
economic growth within the Northern Powerhouse and indeed the country as a
Cllr Peter Box, Chair of the West Yorkshire
Combined Authority said: “The work of the Combined Authority, LEP and its
partner councils to date illustrates what can be achieved through locally
determined priorities, local leadership and local partnership working.
“Through the Growth Deal, European funding
settlement and other public and private sector investment the LEP and CA have
brought around £2bn extra funding into the City Region. As a result, we’re on
track to create 35,700 extra jobs over the next 20 years and make the City
Region a near £100bn economy by 2036. If government agrees to match our
ambition for a meaningful devolution deal, we can go even further and create a
genuine Northern counterweight to London and the South East.
“Through this plan we’re setting our own growth
agenda, focusing on the needs and priorities of our residents and businesses
rather than waiting for government to tell us how to spend money locally. Now
we need government to commit to the devolution deal that’s currently on the
table, so that we can realise the full potential of this plan for the benefit
of the millions of people who live and work here.”
The revised Strategic Economic Plan builds on an
earlier LEP plan which, in 2014, secured a £1 billion Growth Deal with
government – the largest such deal of any local enterprise partnership area in
the country – which included “gainshare” arrangements for transport only recently
matched by other city regions in their devolution deals.
The ultimate ambition outlined in the Strategic
Economic Plan is to grow the City Region economy at a rate above the national
average – making the City Region an overall contributor to the UK economy.
Other projects set out in the plan include
initiatives to close the gap to the national average on higher level skills and
become a “NEET-free” City Region, increase levels of business innovation, and
supporting regeneration in strategic growth areas across the City Region.
Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council,
said: “I’m very pleased to add my support to this dynamic strategy, which
complements our own ambitions for Leeds to develop a strong economy in a
compassionate city where opportunity is available to all.
“To deliver real results, ambition and realism
need to go hand-in-hand. We will continue to push hard for the
properly-devolved powers to enable us to deliver the maximum benefits as these
plans are developed.
“Economic progress must be firmly underpinned by
infrastructure: so for instance the ability to be able to travel easily to your
place of employment is imperative. Skills training is a major priority to
enable people locally to be ready to make the most of the expected economic
“We will settle for nothing less than a region
that has both drive and heart. A place at the forefront of leading its own and
the UK’s economy forward while ensuring its own citizens benefit from the
growth and investment this strategy aims to deliver.”
Through the £125m LEP investment made between
2011-15 the LEP and CA will, by 2020, have created 3,200 additional jobs and
£1.4 billion in extra economic growth for the City Region. 4,300 businesses
have been supported in that time, unlocking half a billion pounds of private
out more about the Strategic Economic Plan and to download a copy of the new
document (opens in new window).