MORE than £1 billion to help grow the region’s economy and create thousands of jobs will be handed to Yorkshire by the Government through a series of deals announced today.
And council and business leaders in the region say the money from Whitehall will help unlock hundreds of millions of pounds in further investment from companies and other public sector bodies.
The agreements, known as ‘growth deals’, will also see key powers shifted from Government departments to local control.
Transport, flood protection, new homes, improving skills and financial support for businesses are just some of the areas that will see major investment in the coming years.
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.”
The deals follow bids from the four local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) – bodies bringing councils and business together – in the region for a share of the Government’s new £2 billion-a-year Local Growth Fund.
A key element of the deal secured by the Leeds City Region LEP is an agreement that will end the long-running deadlock over a proposed £1.6 billion transport fund for the area alongside money to support a string of major developments and investment in skills.
The Humber will progress rail electrification for the area, get help to prepare the local workforce for jobs linked to the green energy revolution and be given unprecedented local control over flood defence spending.
In the south of the region, the green light will be given to key transport schemes as well as additional grants for businesses and a new academy to support the glass industry.
Support to help transform the Food and Environment Research Agency site at Sand Hutton into a business park is a key part of the deal struck for the north of the region as well as significant housing schemes.
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.”
The Local Growth Fund was created by Chancellor George Osborne in the wake of a report from former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine who argued that putting large sums of Government spending in local hands would dramatically speed up efforts to narrow the economic gap between the South-East and other regions.
The £2b billion-a-year on offer is less than he recommended but he gave his backing to today’s announcements.