17 January 2022
Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire Said in relation the IRP North report:
'I welcome this report from IPPR North, which shows us that far from the Government understanding what it takes to level up, putting its money where its mouth is and giving us the tools we need, the decisions they have made over the past few years have actually taken us backwards, not forwards. Nowhere is this clearer than in the scrapping of HS2 to Leeds and the watering-down of Northern Powerhouse Rail via Bradford – decisions that will hold our regions back for generations to come.
When I was elected Mayor, I said I wanted to work with Government on levelling up West Yorkshire. Since then, we’ve seen the renaming of a Department for Levelling Up and a new Levelling Up Fund for us to bid in to. But this new data from IPPR North shows us that the Fund represents just £32 per head in the North, and an overall loss of £381 per head since 2010, when you factor in Government cuts to local council budgets over the past decade. When you consider that 96p of every pound we pay in tax goes to Whitehall, this represents an extremely unfair deal for the Northern taxpayer.
This system isn’t working. Why should local authorities be pitted against one another, made to bid into small pots of funding, when these pots don’t even replace the money that has been taken away by Central Government over the past few years? The UK Shared Prosperity Fund, introduced to replace EU funding for deprived areas, is 40% less than we received as a member of the EU.
If Government were truly committed to levelling up, they wouldn’t need one rebadged department here, or a small pot of funding there. Every department in Whitehall would be tasked with levelling up, and the London-centric thinking of Westminster would be tackled head-on. Most importantly, any Government needs to recognise that in order to address regional inequalities, the solution lies in devolution – moving powers and funding away from Whitehall and closer to the places they affect. We know what we need to level up – just give us the power and money we need to achieve it.'