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Combined Authority’s ambitious £200m autumn budget submission

Cllr Susan HinchcliffeWest Yorkshire Combined Authority has submitted an ambitious bid for more than £200m of government investment and devolved powers in the Government’s Autumn Budget in November, including a boost of over £50m for innovation in the region.

The Combined Authority’s bid includes investment to create new jobs and business opportunities in the City Region’s fast growing MedTech sector, recently dubbed world-leading at a global health innovation conference in San Francisco, and to create a new High-Speed Rail Institute building on the region’s significant research capabilities in the rail industry.

Affordable housing

The bid’s proposed £100m Leeds City Region Housing Deal will increase the rate of house-building in the region and create more, better quality, affordable housing in response to local demand. Meanwhile a proposed £40m local energy fund will reduce the cost of domestic and businesses energy bills through investment in new, low carbon locally generated energy.

Recent calls by City Region politicians and business leaders for the Government to honour previous promises around transport investment are also contained in the bid, including seeking Government’s backing for the City Region’s HS2 Growth Strategy, due to be submitted later this month, and asking ministers to renew commitments made to northern regions during the General Election campaign. These commitments include upgrades to the trans-Pennine rail route connecting York, Leeds and Huddersfield with Manchester and Liverpool, and the delivery of the high-speed Northern Powerhouse Rail scheme with stops in York, Leeds and Bradford.

Devolution

In addition to the ambitious calls for investment in specific projects, the submission also emphasises the importance of a devolution deal that will deliver Yorkshire and Leeds City Region’s full economic potential. It also sets out the case for the Government’s planned UK Shared Prosperity Fund, intended to replace European Union funding after Brexit, to form part of any “single pot” arrangements as part of devolution.

Firmly anchored in the Government’s approach to a modern industrial strategy, the Combined Authority submission focuses on increasing productivity in the City Region while also ensuring that everyone in the region benefits from a strong economy by focusing on inclusive growth. It identifies the need for firms that currently have low productivity being enabled to reach their industry average through private sector-led transformation.

The Combined Authority’s submission also includes immediate priorities, such as the Leeds City Region HS2 Growth Strategy and continuation of key economic services such as the LEP Growth Service, which is supporting 2,500 businesses a year and attracting £28m of private investment.

Over £106.567m of local investment has been approved by the Combined Authority, £54.824m of which will be funded through the Leeds City Region Growth Deal and West Yorkshire plus Transport Fund Funding with the rest coming from other public and private investment.

Track record

West Yorkshire Combined Authority Chair Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe said: “In our Autumn Budget submission, we’ve put forward some ambitious yet totally deliverable asks, building on our track record of successful partnership delivery to date.

“Achieving our region’s full potential over the longer term means creating a strong, successful economy that generates new sources of wealth and opportunity for everyone as well as making our full contribution to the UK economy. With an economy that’s already bigger than Wales and 11 EU countries, that potential is huge.

“However, realising this requires decisions on policy and investment to be made by people who are dedicated to our region and who have the local expertise required, so I hope the Government will match our ambition for the meaningful devolution that will make this possible.

“Only by taking decisions and allocating resources at the right level, as set out in the devolution proposals contained in our Autumn Budget submission, will we be able to turbo-charge our economy and ensure our region plays its full part as a Powerhouse, not just for the North but for the whole of the country.”

Completed

Among the transport schemes completed in the past year are two new rail stations, Kirkstall Forge and Low Moor, a 1,000-space park and ride at Temple Green in Leeds and the Wakefield Eastern Relief Road. Meanwhile, over 1,300 jobs have been created through £10m of grant investment in small and medium-sized enterprises, over 100 local business leaders have been recruited to provide advice and inspiration to young people at 130 schools and an additional £67.5 million of Growth Deal investment has been secured.

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