Budget set to include Yorkshire devolution deal

A devolution deal for Yorkshire is expected to feature in tomorrow's Budget
A devolution deal for Yorkshire is expected to feature in tomorrow's Budget
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A LIMITED devolution deal giving the Leeds city region more control over its own affairs is set to be unveiled as part of the Budget tomorrow.

A copy of the document seen by The Yorkshire Post includes a bigger say for the region over skills funding and a lead role in the way support is given to local businesses.

The city region will have more control over the way key assets held by the Homes and Communities Agency, including key development sites, are used.

There is also a number of commitments to future discussions in areas such as joint commissioning of the work programme - the Government’s main tool for getting the long-term unemployed back to work - and greater control over local transport schemes.

Future devolution to the Leeds City Region will also be accompanied by consultations on changing the way the area is governed, the document says. The Chancellor has been pressing the area to adopt a Boris Johnson-style elected mayor in return for much more wide-ranging powers.

The deal is likely to be presented by the Government has a major handover of powers from Whitehall to West Yorkshire but received more cautiously in the region.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority chairman Peter Box said: “The deal is disappointing and doesn’t match the scale of our ambition.

“It undermines the Government’s claim to want a strong ‘northern powerhouse’. If we are to turn that into reality we need real devolution, including fiscal devolution, to enable us to bring about a step change in the city region’s economy.”

The Yorkshire Post further understands that a plan to transform the North’s transport has been presented to the Treasury and could also feature in tomorrow’s Budget.

George Osborne launched Transport for the North - a body bringing together councils, the Department for Transport, the Highways Agency and others - last year to come up with a plan to overhaul transport as part of his goal of turning the North into an “economic powerhouse”.

The Yorkshire Post revealed earlier this month that officials had been told to re-write the plan after a first draft was deemed too vague and lacked timetables for delivery of particular projects.

The Government is expected to say more about the plan this week and it could feature in Mr Osborne’s Budget tomorrow.

It is thought unlikely the Government will immediately commit large sums to specific projects but money is expected to be made available to develop schemes further.