Though Chancellor Philip Hammond did not mention Yorkshire once in his speech, he pledged to go further to "fire up the Northern Powerhouse and back our regions across the UK".Among the announcements was a Â£770m increase to the existing Â£1.7bn Transforming Cities fund designed to improve transport links between cities and outlying areas. The fund, announced at last year's Budget, saw half the funding reserved for areas with fully implemented devolution deals, meaning political leaders in West Yorkshire and the Sheffield City Region had to compete for the rest of the country for the remainder.Mr Hammond pledged Â£37m to support the development of Northern Powerhouse rail, the high speed line connecting the North's biggest cities. Transport for the North is currently working on its submission to the Treasury on the project, which has yet to receive formal government approval.A promised Â£13m to improve access to flood information included an expansion to the flood warning system to an extra 1,300 at-risk properties in Yorkshire and the Humber.
And after the Budget speech, Treasury officials said the 'Northern Powerhouse Strategy', first published in 2016, was to be refreshed next year to improve productivity.The Chancellor said in a statement: “My Budget sends a clear message to the people of Yorkshire and the Humber – your hard work is paying off and austerity is coming to an end.“Thanks to our careful stewardship of the economy the public finances are in a much stronger position and national debt is falling.“This means we have more money to invest in Britain’s future – boosting local services, supporting our high street, backing business and fuelling the economy.” But in response, former Treasury Minister Lord Jim O'Neill, one of the architects of the Northern Powerhouse project said the Government "needs to become much more committed to the Northern Powerhouse or stop talking about it".
He added: "For the Northern Powerhouse the critical investment we need in transport, education, skills, devolution and increasing productivity is not being delivered, despite the consistent and persuasive cases being made by our business and civic leaders.“All Northern eyes will be on the Chancellor in the coming months to see if the Treasury sign off on Northern Powerhouse Rail, a scheme that will be transformational for economic growth and rebalancing the economy. "Without it, the exciting potential for the Northern Powerhouse to boost the national economy’s growth trend won’t be realised.”Labour's Bradford MP Judith Cummins said: “This Budget has failed to deliver for people in Bradford, Yorkshire and the country.“The Prime Minister and the Chancellor have heralded the end of austerity - but this is nothing more than empty rhetoric.“The Tories have failed to fix the fundamental weaknesses of the British economy - low growth, low investment and low pay.”
Hard road ahead for North Yorkshire
The Conservative leader of the town hall covering England’s largest county said it still faces a “hard road ahead” despite extra funds for adult social care and roads announced by the Chancellor.
In measures to tackle the social care crisis, Philip Hammond promised Â£650 million of grant funding for English authorities for 2019-20 and an additional Â£45 million for the disabled facilities grant in England in 2018-19. A further Â£84 million will expand children’s social care programmes.
And local highways authorities will benefit from a Â£420 million fund to tackle potholes, bridge repairs and other minor works.
Carl Les, the Tory leader of North Yorkshire County Council, said the additional funding would help with some immediate pressures.
But he said: “These one-off payments do not address the fact that for a county like North Yorkshire, the largest geographically, an increase in long-term funding for essential services is the only way to create sustainability. We will also need to see the detail of how these additional monies can be spent.
“Government is a partnership between central and local government and I am pleased the Government has listened to our concerns, voiced directly through our MPs and through our networks like the County Council Network.”
North Yorkshire County Council says that in the decade to 2020 its spending power will have reduced by one third.
It recently asked residents to consider if people who need more than one carer should pay for the extra care and whether contributions towards transport to places such as day care centres should be significantly raised.
Mr Hammond yesterday reiterated statements that the Government’s much-awaited social care green paper would be published “shortly”. “I recognise the immediate pressures local authorities face in respect of social care,” Mr Hammond said.
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society charity, said in a statement: “Â£650m to prop up the broken social care system only just staves off total collapse”.