Rebalancing the economy for the benefit of the whole UK

Influential Chairs make Yorkshire Day calls for Government to back devolution and funding that enables all areas to achieve full potential.

Today, on Yorkshire Day, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Chair Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Chair Roger Marsh OBE have called on the government to adopt an economic strategy that prioritises a more cohesive, balanced UK economy and enables West Yorkshire and the Leeds City Region to achieve its huge potential.

Long-term plans

Cllr Hinchcliffe told today’s West Yorkshire Combined Authority meeting that its response to the Treasury Committee’s ‘Regional Imbalances in the UK Economy’ inquiry, is an opportunity to show that further devolution will empower local political and business leaders to work together with local communities to set long-term plans.

By combining powers and additional funding, Cllr Hinchcliffe said local leaders would be able to take the big decisions affecting their regions, accountable to local people, and that this would be key to overcome feelings of disconnection from Westminster.

Short-changed

The submission to the Treasury Select Committee by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the Leeds City Region LEP highlights the current imbalance in investment. With Yorkshire and The Humber receiving among the lowest levels of Government spending per head on economic development and transport and being short-changed by over £800 million per year.

Following the meeting, Cllr Hinchcliffe, said: “Devolution and this change in approach that we are recommending to the government are key to rebalancing the economy and delivering real, long-term benefits to local people.

“Independent research shows that devolution could deliver economic benefits worth £30 billion a year or £5,400 per person in Yorkshire, which is why we are today reiterating that we need the new Prime Minister to unlock these benefits through an interim devolution deal, creating a pathway to a full One Yorkshire devolution deal in 2022.”

Shared ambitions

Roger Marsh OBE, the Chair of the influential NP11 group of northern local enterprise partnerships and of the Leeds City Region LEP, said:

“The ambitions that we and the government share for a Northern Powerhouse can only be made a reality if all parts of the North are able to fire on all cylinders.

“This would result in a successful and competitive UK economy, balanced from north to south and from east to west, based upon all areas, including the Leeds City Region, having the powers and government investment to achieve their full potential.”

The report states that regional imbalances are both the cause and effect of the UK’s poor productivity performance and says increasing investment in regions like Yorkshire is a way to redress the last four decades of economic and social divergence.

Read the Combined Authority's response to the Treasury Committee’s ‘Regional Imbalances in the UK Economy’ inquiry.