�1bn Deal to secure transformational growth for the Leeds City Region
By Roger Marsh, LEP Chair
It has been an extraordinary start to the summer for the Leeds City Region. Not only were we at the heart of the world’s greatest cycling race which showcased the region in the finest light to an international audience, but we also secured the largest settlement of devolved powers and funding that the City Region has ever witnessed. We have been calling on government to devolve the powers and the pounds for our partnership to unlock the potential of the City Region and in an announcement this month, the government took the first step in helping us achieve this.
Across the entire country, the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership secured the largest sum of funding from the government’s Local Growth Fund, with £573m committed to the region over the next 6 years. This funding represents a game-changing moment for the City Region as we are handed the tools we need to take a leap forward in delivering the transformational growth we have long been planning. The scale of our Deal means that the entire Leeds City Region will benefit from this devolved funding and we can deliver a balanced programme of strategic investment.
Following the government announcement, I have had meetings with businesses in the region who understandably ask the same question - “what does this funding mean for my business?”
We have secured a further £18m over the next 3 years for our successful Business Growth Programme which has already enabled over 250 businesses in the region to achieve their growth ambitions and will ensure that many more jobs are secured for local people. The LEP will also develop a Growth Hub to coordinate and simplify business support and help companies understand what relevant funding is available to implement their growth plans.
Funding for an Energy Hub will help us develop a pipeline of new energy infrastructure projects and plans for a resource efficiency programme are in place to deliver expert advice to over 500 SMEs on how to cut spend and increase productivity. Investment for BioVale in York has been secured to provide an Innovation cluster for biotechnology. This joint project with the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding LEP will help companies work together on the development of high value chemicals, natural products, next generation biofuels and processing bio-waste.
The LEP has been acknowledged as a national leader on the skills agenda and this has been recognised through our allocation of funding for a skills capital programme. This will provide investment in Further Education colleges to support sectors that will generate the greatest contribution to economic growth and ensure a world-class learning environment for our young people.
Strategic housing and development sites will be delivered in Bradford, Leeds, Wakefield, York, Halifax and Skipton to create more affordable housing and support the ambition set out in our Strategic Economic Plan to double house building by 2021.
Alongside this leading Growth Fund settlement and unlike anywhere else in the country, we secured funding for an historic Transport Fund. This separate deal means the City Region will benefit from a further £420m beyond the life of this Growth Deal, to 2035. This multi-year investment will go towards improvements to our roads and railways and will ensure that we are equipped with the 21st Century infrastructure we need to be ready for the arrival of HS2. A decade of partnership working has secured this agreement and the combination of these two devolved pots of funding means the region has secured a deal worth £1bn.
The additional freedoms and flexibilities we have secured through this Deal demonstrate the trust government has in the strength of our partnership. With our partner, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, we have proved to government that devolution works. Now it’s time to show that we can deliver at scale and at pace to ensure we not only execute our ambition of transformational growth, but that we exceed the targets we have set. To do this we will ensure we maximise the full range of funding and investment options to deliver our Strategic Economic Plan in its entirety by pooling resources from European Funding, local funds and private sector investment.
Our Growth Deal cements our position as a trusted and ambitious LEP and we will continue to work with government to realise the full economic potential of this powerhouse City Region so that good growth is felt by all.
Growth Deal at a glance
- £573m devolved funding from 2015 – 2021. The largest Growth Deal in the entire country.
- £73m of that funding has been allocated for 2015/16 to kick-start projects across the entire City Region.
- £30m per year for the next 20 years to support a £1bn Transport Fund.
- Within the 15/16 agreement, there is £8m for the successful LEP Business Growth Programme to provide grants to businesses with ambitious growth plans.
- £12m is available in 15/16 to invest in a skills capital programme to create a skilled and flexible workforce.
An edited version of this article can be found in today's Yorkshire Post.