YP Comment: Hammond must help the region

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CHANCELLOR of the Exchequer Philip Hammond has a golden opportunity to help Yorkshire when he delivers his autumn statement on Wednesday. He should not hesitate to take it.

His expected emphasis on using major infrastructure projects to drive economic growth, in particular spending £1.3bn to relieve road congestion, fit exactly with this region’s requirements.

If Mr Hammond is serious about expressing the Government’s support for the Northern Powerhouse, that spending should include investment on reducing congestion on trans-Pennine routes, particularly the M62.

The leaders of Leeds and Sheffield city councils are amongst the signatories to a letter pressing the Chancellor to demonstrate tangible support for the north, and they are right to do so, given that the only transport project identified for support in the statement so far is a fast link between Oxford and Cambridge.

Mr Hammond should also heed the call from Open Britain, and the former Labour leader Ed Miliband to guarantee that Yorkshire receives the full £603m it is due from the EU before 2020.

Whatever form Brexit eventually takes, this money must not be lost from our region because the Government fails to provide match funding.

A key reason why Mr Hammond should commit to making sure the EU funds come our way is that this region exemplifies the group the Government has committed to help in the statement, the so-called “just about managing”.

There is no doubt the Chancellor is right to warn of economic uncertainties ahead. For Yorkshire, ensuring that EU funds are available to support industry, agriculture, fisheries and youth employment is an important means of mitigating any difficulties.

Theresa May entered Downing Street as Prime Minister promising to rebalance the economy to remove inequalities. On Wednesday, her Chancellor has the chance to start closing the north-south divide. He must do so.

Miliband: Hammond should guarantee Yorkshire’s EU millions