THE ALREADY powerful case for Yorkshire devolution is made even more compelling by groundbreaking research which reveals that the county could be up to £30bn a year better off.
Not only is this a major shot-in-the-arm to One Yorkshire campaigners who say this county is at its most effective when it pulls together in its entirety, but it also assuages those critics who say “chest-beating” slogans and the like will never suffice on their own.
But this independent report goes further. It shows the size of the opportunity that exists if this region’s political, business and civic leaders can maintain an unified position and the convince sceptical Ministers that it is also in the national economic interest to approve a far-reaching devolution deal by 2020.
Take, by way of example, this region’s exports which are worth £16.8bn a year. They contribute to just over five per cent of the UK’s total exports. Yet, if they corresponded with the national average and this region’s population, they would reach £27bn a year.
Not only would a Yorkshire mayor be a global ambassador for this county, but such a figurehead would also be in a position to persuade more UK companies to relocate here. Another surprising aspect of this report is the fact that this region is home to a below-average number of firms. This is another area of untapped potential.
And so it goes on – all while the dynamics of Government decision-making change as rival regions optimise their mayoral powers. As North Yorkshire County Council leader Carl Les notes, it was elected mayors who were in front of the queue at the Tory conference negotiating with Ministers, influencing policy and making the case for additional investment.
Yet, while Yorkshire’s leaders like Coun Les realise the urgency of the issue, the challenge, nevertheless is persuading hostile Ministers about the validity of the county’s ambitions and how every family here will reap the rewards and, in turn, bolster the national economy. This report helps – it is, in many respects, a gamechanger – and this region now needs to lobby Chancellor Philip Hammond urgently so he can set the tone for the Government’s response in this month’s Budget.