Chancellor urged to back £2 billion five-year recovery proposals for West Yorkshire

Detailed submission, including both short and long-term funding proposals to address ingrained inequalities and support the regional and national recovery, sent ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review this Autumn

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has asked the Government for up to £2 billion over the next five years to support the region’s economic and transport recovery from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A detailed submission has been sent to the Chancellor ahead of the planned Comprehensive Spending Review set to be announced later this Autumn and will be discussed at the Combined Authority meeting on Tuesday 10 November.

Developed with all five West Yorkshire Councils, the LEP, and partners including unions and businesses, the proposals set out ambitious plans to tackle immediate issues including supporting the transport network through local lockdown measures, as well as longer term strategies to address decades of underinvestment in the region and deliver an inclusive, zero carbon recovery.

Building on the additional funding and powers secured through the West Yorkshire devolution deal, the submission details how the funding would enable the Combined Authority to achieve its ambitions, ensuring no communities were left behind.

Economic forecasting undertaken by the Combined Authority found that in a worst-case scenario, West Yorkshire could see up to 58,000 jobs lost in the next year leading to an unemployment rate of 14% and £12 billion wiped off the value of the regional economy.

However, the plans submitted to the Government make it clear that with the right level of investment now, along with the extra powers and funding secured through the West Yorkshire devolution deal, the region can make a positive recovery from the immediate crisis as well as playing a key role in the UK-wide bounce back.

Proposals include:

The West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Plan – a £1.4 billion plan which includes:

  • Health Innovation – A £60 million fund to build on existing regional strengths, delivering investment opportunities, jobs and better health outcomes for local communities
  • Transition to Net Zero - A £194 million fund which would support specific projects to tackle the climate emergency, fund new flood alleviation schemes, create new jobs and help people gain the skills needed for those roles.
  • Entrepreneurship – A £340 million fund to support people from a diverse range of backgrounds start their own businesses as well as helping existing companies to grow and innovate.

The West Yorkshire Transport Recovery Plan which includes:

  • Mass Transit System for West Yorkshire - Support and funding to accelerate the delivery of an innovative, low carbon system.
  • Rail - Commitment to an integrated rail plan for the North and the Midlands, including HS2 East and Northern Powerhouse Rail with a stop serving Bradford City Centre
  • Buses – Short- and long-term funding for the region’s network as well as support for integrated ticketing and information services for passengers in our region.

Sustainable funding to support levelling up which includes:

  • Local authority funding – A commitment to addressing the ongoing pressures on councils and at the very minimum, covering the costs of Covid and providing a real term increase to all local authorities.
  • Future-Ready Skills Commission - Further devolution from central Government of adult skills funding and a £465 million package to support a range of measures designed to lower unemployment and increase opportunities.
  • UK Shared Prosperity Fund - A commitment to provide at least £115 million per year to Leeds City Region, replacing EU structural funding now that the UK has left the EU.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said: “The economic impact of COVID-19 on West Yorkshire has been severe, and without taking bold measures for the future, the cost of Government inaction will weigh heavy on our people and economy.

“The Government has been clear about its ambitions to ‘level-up’ parts of the UK that have been left behind – now is the time to commit the investment needed to turn that rhetoric into action.

“With the right funding, we can tackle entrenched inequalities that exist not only between North and South but within our communities and give our communities hope of a better future.”

Roger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of the LEP and Chair of the NP11, said: “The LEP, the Combined Authority and our partners across the region have worked hard to support businesses through the peak of the pandemic with financial support, information and tailored, expert advice.

“History has taught us that all great crises bring historic opportunities and now is the time to reimagine and reinvent our region and build long-term economic resilience so we can better weather any future storms.

“But we cannot do this in isolation, which is why we’re calling on the Chancellor to empower our region with the right funding and support to ensure we create a regional economy that works for all, where people can access the right skills training that will prepare them to take advantage of the jobs of the future.”