Combined Authority sets out investment priorities for devolution funds

Investment powers to give greater flexibility on supporting skills, businesses, inclusion, climate and infrastructure.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has today agreed its approach to investing funding secured through the devolution deal.

As West Yorkshire’s residents elect the region’s first Mayor in May, the Combined Authority sets out the rules and guiding principles behind the Single Investment Fund and West Yorkshire Investment Strategy.

The Single Investment Fund brings together sources of funding available to the Combined Authority, which includes the £38 million a year ‘gainshare’ alongside further, ring-fenced funds for education, travel and infrastructure.

It will give the Combined Authority greater local freedom and flexibility over how to prioritise investments to meet its goals of supporting inclusive growth, tackling the climate emergency, reducing inequalities and ensuring a strong recovery from the pandemic.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said: “The funds and powers unlocked by the leaders of West Yorkshire through the devolution deal will be a game changer for our region. They will give us much greater say in how we use our resources to build a recovery and long-term future that works for everyone."

“As we come out of the pandemic, we need to make every penny count. The investment strategy we have agreed today means we can continue the Combined Authority’s strong track record of delivering excellent results and offering value for money for the public purse.”

Through the Single Investment Fund, the Combined Authority will be able to invest the £38 million per year of flexible ‘gainshare’ funding, which will be split 25% capital, 75% revenue and guaranteed for 30 years. Future external capital and revenue funding is expected to be added to the Single Investment Fund over time.

Already, gainshare money secured through the devolution deal is making a difference to the lives of people across West Yorkshire. The Combined Authority has agreed to unlock £5 million in emergency funding to support immediate priorities from local authority partners’ COVID-19 recovery plans.

This follows a £13.5 million investment in skills, training and employment support agreed by the Combined Authority in late 2020, which will help over 10,000 people build new skills and access training or find work, over the next two years.

The Combined Authority has also agreed to make available at least £6 million to encourage a new generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders, to set up innovative, new businesses with the potential to create sustainable jobs and tackle some of the key challenges facing the region post-pandemic.

Underpinning all decisions for the Single Investment Fund is the West Yorkshire Investment Strategy. It sets out five strategic investment priorities to inform decisions about programmes and schemes, and future funding bids, with the overall goal of driving an inclusive green recovery, while tackling inequality and the climate emergency.

The five investment priorities are: good jobs and resilient businesses; skills and training for people; accelerated infrastructure; connectivity – transport; and tackling the climate emergency and environmental sustainability.

The Investment Strategy and its investment priorities will be set out over an initial agreed investment period, with the first West Yorkshire Investment Strategy covering the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2024. The strategy will be further developed for consideration once the Mayor is in post.