Devolution: Why it matters for everyone in Yorkshire

SET AGAINST the day to day concerns of most Yorkshire families, devolution can seem little more than an academic discussion point.

Former health secretary Andy Burnham was elected Greater Manchester metro mayor in May
Former health secretary Andy Burnham was elected Greater Manchester metro mayor in May

And when this region has spent three years tying itself in knots trying to achieve a similar transfer of powers and money from London that Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and other regions have managed to negotiate it is no wonder that many of those who once engaged with the issue have long since lost interest or hope.

But it really matters.

At its heart devolution is about securing more and better jobs for the people of this region. It is about where roads are built, tackling Yorkshire’s housing crisis, improving the skills of young people and helping our businesses compete globally.

It means an end - or at least the beginning of the end - of Yorkshire having to make the case to Whitehall for what can often be relatively minor changes in policy - and the start of this region taking meaningful responsibility for its own future.

The focus of Yorkshire devolution proposals is often on geography, powers and money.

What is often overlooked are the more subtle impacts of Yorkshire remaining outside the devolution ‘club’.

Having been the first to take the leap, Greater Manchester has been able to expand the scope of its initial devolution deal. The West Midlands has opened talks on further powers.

There are signs that when ministers want to talk about regional development, those conversations are increasingly happening with metro-mayors.

From bids to be the home of Channel 4 to hosting the Commonwealth Games, the feedback from insiders is that devolved areas have an advantage from the start.

That’s why a way forward has to be found.