How a devolution deal for Hull could guarantee work for city's young people

Political leaders in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire hope to set up a £15m-a-year scheme to guarantee work for young people as part of its devolution deal with the Government.

An agreement on handing a host of new powers and up to £1.6bn in extra funding to the region could see a new elected metro mayor and a mayoral authority dedicated to economic growth in place by 2022.

Council leaders have submitted their bid to government in the hope of joining West Yorkshire and the Sheffield City Region in getting a devolution deal which could help tackle some of the entrenched problems affecting the area.

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The document says that social cohesion is "relatively strong" across the population of 600,000, which is evenly split between the city of Hull and the surrounding area and more than 300 market and coastal towns, villages and hamlets.

But the average annual salary is only 87 per cent of the national figure and the relative lack of higher paid jobs limits the area's ability to retain and attract high skilled workers.

It says: "We also have some of the most extreme variations in economic prosperity in the country and key challenges related to inter-generational worklessness and path-dependency.

"Health inequalities and an ageing workforce are also major challenges and underline the need to retain and attract younger workers with the skills and adaptability to respond to economic opportunity."

Hull and the East Riding have submitted their bid for a devolution deal. Pic: Jonathan Gawthorpe

It is hoped that with the help of the extra funding currently under the control of government new programmes can be set up which will improve access to jobs for young people and stop poverty from being passed down the generations.

Leaders want to work with the Department of Work and Pensions to set up a Young People’s Work Guarantee Programme for Hull worth £15m a year.

This would include setting up an 'active labour market model' in Hull where state programmes intervene in the labour market to help the unemployed find work, as well as providing start-up and micro-finance to young entrepreneurs and wrap-around support for vulnerable families and children.

Other asks in the document include setting up a new Tourism Action Zone which targets city, coastal and country locations in the East Riding and Hull and supports a "sustainable, post-COVID-19 tourism offer".

And leaders want to set up a new £50m Coastal Towns Programme for Bridlington, Hornsea, and Withernsea as part of efforts to invest in the economic prosperity of the East Yorkshire coast.

Officials see devolution as the only way of making serious headway on the issues that are holding back the local economy.

They had hoped to join forces with North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire councils to form a cross-Humber combined authority, but leaders south of the Humber wanted to reach an agreement with the rest of Lincolnshire.

Because of the relatively small population covered by the deal - compared with 1.8 million in South Yorkshire and 2.4 million in West Yorkshire - it is likely that the funding pot will be smaller than elsewhere.

But leaders believe the example of Tees Valley metro mayor Ben Houchen, who represents an area of around 700,000 people, shows the benefits devolution could bring to the area.

Any deal would have to be agreed by Ministers but would mean more decisions currently taken in London would be made locally, and put Hull and the East Riding further up the queue for future extra funding and powers.

The bid document asks for £1.6bn in funding and is meant to provide a starting point for negotiations with the Government.

According to the document, devolution "offers the opportunity to leverage our sectoral strengths in the transition to a more productive, low carbon economy whilst levelling up the living standards and economic opportunities for our most deprived communities".

It adds: "This will build on a long and successful history of partnership working, focused on our combined strengths in sustainable energy generation, flood risk and environmental management and water-sensitive regeneration."

The bid also includes plans for Hull and the East Riding to work with South Bank authorities on cross-Humber areas of concern like green energy and the establishment of a low-tax Humber 'freeport' to boost local manufacturing.