Leeds City Region leading the way on inclusive growth

At its board meeting on 19 July, the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (the LEP) will discuss actions it and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority are taking to put inclusive growth at the heart of its activities, in order to create and develop an environment where all communities have access to economic opportunities and prosperity

The Combined Authority has recently submitted a bid for significant funding through the Government’s £1.7 billion Transforming Cities Fund ensure disadvantaged communities are able to see the maximum benefit from investment in transport improvements. 

This follows on from making inclusive growth criteria as a central part of revised criteria for business grants, and an ambitious Local Industrial Strategy, which is currently in development, bringing together national and international experience and leading thinkers. 

Cllr Shabir Pandor, LEP Board Member and Chair of the Inclusive Growth and Public Policy Panel, and Leader of Kirklees Council, said: “Making sure inclusive growth is part of everything we do at the LEP is vitally important to helping disadvantaged communities across the City Region. The LEP can be incredibly powerful in promoting inclusive growth for all and with these actions, we are leading by example.

“As the key employers in our region, businesses have a critical role to play in ensuring everyone in our region has the opportunity of a good job, with good pay and a great quality of life. We owe it to the people we serve to ensure that our strong economy benefits everybody in our communities.” 

The Transforming Cities Fund bid focuses on funding better transport connections for communities most in need of access to jobs, services and education. Promoting health and the environment are priorities of the submission, through supporting cycling and walking as well as exploring the opportunities offered by new technology to develop better, more environmentally-friendly public transport.

Last month, the LEP Board approved measures that mean businesses applying for grants of £25,000 or above will have to sign up to the LEP’s inclusive growth commitments – a key part of its vision to create an economy that works for everyone.

The commitments include developing skills and training plans for low-paid staff, offering sustainable travel options, reducing energy consumption, paying the Real Living Wage or above and working with local schools and colleges.

The LEP and Combined Authority are also using their investments through the £1 billion Growth Deal to create opportunities for growth for people from all backgrounds to develop the skills they need to access good quality jobs.

An example of this is the Kirklees College Springfield Centre in Dewsbury, funded through a £11.1 million grant and £0.85 million loan from the LEP, which offers a significantly enhanced learning environment for students. The project was delivered by the Combined Authority as part of an overall £80 million package of investment in new college facilities across the region. 

The LEP’s commitment to creating inclusive growth will be further cemented in the Local Industrial Strategy. This strategy will focus on closing the region’s productivity gap while also supporting inclusive and clean growth.

By engaging with a wide range of public sector, private and third sector partners, the LEP and City Region Partners are bringing together evidence from across the region and working with national and international peers to develop initiatives that create and embed inclusive growth for the benefit of all communities. 

Outside of the City Region, the LEP and City Region partners have worked with the Deputy Mayor of London, Rajesh Agarwal, creating a valuable link with the Capital. The LEP is also participating in the prestigious MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP), learning from partner cities across developed and emerging markets about how to create and embed innovation and growth for the benefit of all. 

17 July 2019