Major new report shows the strengths of devolution

Thousands of jobs and businesses supported through Leeds City Region’s £1 billion Devolution Growth Deal.

Leeds City Region’s £1 billion Growth Deal is set to create or protect over 45,000 gross jobs throughout the lifetime of its investments, catalysing economic growth throughout the region, an independent report into its impact has concluded.

Independent consultancy, Arcadis, was commissioned to understand the impact of the Growth Deal, which began in 2014 and ended in March 2021. 

In addition to creating and supporting employment across the region, Arcadis’ report shows that devolved funding and powers in Leeds City Region has been instrumental to economic growth and progress since 2015.

The report also highlights that when regions are given control over funding to invest, they deliver against local priorities, making a dramatic difference to the lives of residents and contributing to a buoyant and flexible economy.

Sir Roger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and NP11 group of Northern local enterprise partnerships, said: “In 2014 the LEP agreed the largest ever Growth Deal with Government, setting out a positive vision for the future of our region and securing £1 billion to make this happen. In the years since, we have shown what we can achieve when given the power and funding. 

“As this independent report from Arcadis shows, the Growth Deal has been a tremendous success, delivering £12 worth of lasting benefits to Leeds City Region for every taxpayer £1 spent. Our own figures show for every £1 of public sector money, we have delivered an estimated £4 of private sector investment, demonstrating what can be done when the public and private sectors work together.

“The Growth Deal has allowed us to make a vital and transformational investment in our economy, directly helping to improve the lives of everyone who lives and works in the region. It has delivered improvements to our bus, road, and rail infrastructure, supported the growth of over 10,000 businesses, and built new college and educational facilities that are helping develop the talent of tomorrow.

“There is no doubt that the investment the Growth Deal has unlocked and the way it has been delivered has contributed substantially to the success of the Leeds City Region, it has paved the way for our region’s Devolution deal and the election of the first Mayor of West Yorkshire.” 

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire said: “The legacy of the Growth Deal is an impressive record of delivery on housing, economic growth and regeneration. As we move forward as a region, I am committed to building on this success through the ten pledges I set out in my manifesto.   

“There has been good progress in enabling affordable housing in the region, but I will build on this and create 5,000 affordable and sustainable homes. Through the Growth Deal we invested in improved Further Education facilities, helping learners to develop skills that will lead to successful careers and support business.  

“Our young people have been hard hit by the impact of covid with 16,000 16–24-year-olds unemployed in our region. Of course, more needs to happen and I look forward to continuing to improve and diversify the types of training offered by institutions such as Leeds College of Building, through my pledge to prioritise skills and training. 

“The success to date in our region strengthens the case for further devolution. Devolution has the power to transform people’s lives. I remain concerned that there is no similarly devolved programme to follow on from the Growth Deal and look forward to the Government’s White Paper on Devolution and Local Recovery.  

“If we are to genuinely level up, further resources and powers must be granted locally to make transformative change. In the meantime, I will build on the success to date, ensuring inclusion, diversity and equality drive success in our region.” 

Charles Nti from Arcadis said: “Our evaluation of the impact of the Growth deal on the Leeds City Region concludes that it has achieved impressive value for money. The Growth Deal is unlocking the City Region’s potential to be the growth engine for the North and is contributing to rebalancing the local and national economies.” 

In 2014, the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) led by its chair Sir Roger Marsh OBE DL, and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority secured £516 million in funds to invest over ten years as part of the country’s largest ever Local Growth Deal with Government. This investment was then doubled as the private sector was able to match Growth Deal investment, the region has therefore benefitted from a sum of over £1 billion in total. 

The Growth Deal has been used to improve public transport, infrastructure, and digital connectivity, develop new housing, and support regeneration, and invest in clean energy and environmental resilience, including flood alleviation measures to help protect thousands of homes and businesses. 

It has also helped people to develop their skills to improve their employability, access jobs and realise their potential, as well as supporting businesses to help them grow or locate in the region and create good jobs for local people. Leeds City College campus at Quarry Hill is an excellent example of a state-of-the-art learning facility which the Growth Deal has funded.  

The report’s findings will be presented at the LEP Board meeting on 21 July and can be read here.