"This is not proper devolution", West Yorkshire Mayor tells MPs

Tracy Brabin has launched a blistering attack on the government’s commitment to levelling up.

12 December 2022

Tracy Brabin has launched a blistering attack on the government’s commitment to levelling up.

The government finally confirmed a devastating cut to regional budgets this week – reducing the money areas will get through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which replaces former European Union (EU) funding for the regions. West Yorkshire will receive £83 million instead of the £120 million it would have received from EU regional funds, despite previous Chancellors and Prime Ministers pledging that no area would miss out and receive less money after the UK’s exit from the EU.

Ministers had promised to approve local investment plans for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund by October. But this was repeatedly pushed back, and the delays now mean there are just four months to deliver this support for the region’s communities and businesses before the end of the financial year.

This unnecessarily burdensome approach to funding devolution, alongside requirements for local areas to spend months preparing bids for various government levelling up funds, risks holding back efforts to reduce inequality and level up across the UK.

Speaking ahead of giving evidence to a Parliamentary committee today (Monday 12 December), the West Yorkshire Mayor criticised the cuts and called for an end to an era of "begging bowl politics and Whitehall-knows-best approach to devolution".

Following months of chaos on the North’s transport network, as local leaders are forced to pause important investment in projects due to inflation and Budget cuts, Ms Brabin called for change.

West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin said:

“This government trashed the economy and, as a result of record levels of inflation, we’re now having to pause important projects that will genuinely level up opportunities right across our region.

“Worse still, they’re pickpocketing our region during a cost-of-living crisis by cutting the money we received from the European Union by a third - despite promising we would receive the same amount.

“And after a decade of austerity when Town Hall budgets are left in tatters, they pass the buck on paying the tab for their bad decisions and insist on pushing Council Tax up – the sheer cheek of it.

“Ministers talk the talk on levelling up, but they refuse let go of the purse strings and put local leaders, who know their areas best, in control of their destiny.

"We must end this patronising era of begging bowl politics and Whitehall-knows-best approach to devolution.

“This is not proper devolution – they are holding us back when we want to drive investment in our region.

“Instead of having to jump through hoops, bid into funds and repeatedly make the case to every single government department about why our region is ready for investment, we want a single conversation with the Treasury on a single settlement so we can join up decisions on skills, transport and jobs."

West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin will give evidence in front of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee on Monday 12 December 2022. This is part of the select committee’s inquiry into funding for levelling up.