Tory Minister 'will travel to Leeds next week in search of a West Yorkshire devolution deal'

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A Treasury Minister is to hold talks with political leaders from West Yorkshire next week in a bid to reach a long-awaited devolution deal with the county.

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke will tell a Westminster Hall debate today that he will go to Leeds "in search of a deal" that will build on West Yorkshire's strengths in the digital, financial services and the creative sectors.

Yorkshire is yet to get a fully-implemented devolution deal after years of wrangling. Stock pic

Yorkshire is yet to get a fully-implemented devolution deal after years of wrangling. Stock pic

The MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland is due to speak on behalf of the Government in a debate this morning led by Sheffield City Region metro mayor Dan Jarvis.

Read more: Breakthrough in South Yorkshire devolution deal as Government and local leaders finally sing from the same hymn sheet

Read more: Give Yorkshire proper devolution in 2020 and end this democratic deficit – Yorkshire Post Letters

Mr Jarvis, the Labour MP for Barnsley Central, will say the country is in the middle of a national productivity crisis but that the picture is far worse in South Yorkshire and the North.

Describing a productivity gap between the North and the rest of the UK of 12 per cent which costs the economy billions in lost output every year, he will call for more powers and funding to be devolved to local leaders to tackle the problem.

He will say: “It is no coincidence that a country with the levels of political and economic centralisation such as ours also has some of the lowest levels of productivity growth and some of the highest regional inequalities.

“That is not good for the state of our nation, it is not good for the state of our public finances and it is not good for health, the happiness or the well-being of our communities in South Yorkshire.”

Last week, it emerged that local leaders and the Government reached an agreement on working towards a £30m-a-year devolution deal in the Sheffield City Region after two years of deadlock.

A framework published this week reveals that a mayoral tax, a deputy mayor, extra powers on public transport and the ability to keep 100 per cent of business rates are some of the elements which could be included in the arrangement.

And Mr Clarke will say today that metro mayors are delivering on local priorities, adding: "Our commitment to enabling local people - who know their areas best - to be the masters of their own economic destiny couldn’t be stronger."

He will say: “And today I can announce that I will be holding talks with West Yorkshire’s leaders next week on a mayoral devolution deal for Leeds City Region.

"We are determined to build on the region’s strengths in digital, financial services and the creative sectors, as we level up and share the success of the opportunities ahead.

"And we will put our money where our mouth is for the right agreement. I will go to Leeds next week in search of that deal.”