Leeds City Region to grasp opportunities of Assisted Areas Status
Areas in the Leeds City Region are in line to get new powers to help businesses grow as the government consults on which areas of the UK will get “Assisted Area” status for 2014-20.
At present, the local authorities within the Leeds City Region that contain wards with Assisted Area status are Wakefield, Barnsley and Selby. However, if the government’s proposals for 2014-20 are implemented as they stand, Assisted Area coverage within Leeds City Region would be significantly expanded to include areas of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Leeds.
Places that are designated Assisted Areas are able to offer greater levels of support to businesses who are either already located there or who move into the area.
Traditionally, Assisted Areas status has been granted to economically disadvantaged localities, both to encourage businesses to locate there and also to support existing businesses to grow. However, in revised plans, the UK government is keen to ensure that Assisted Area coverage is closely aligned to areas of economic opportunity to ensure that the impact of the benefits on offer is maximised. If plans go ahead as they stand, the Leeds City Region would see a huge increase in its proposed coverage - up 75% on the existing coverage, compared to an increase of 13% for the UK overall.
The revised coverage would include some the city region’s key development sites, including the Aire Valley enterprise zone, Bradford city centre growth zone and Leeds’ city centre and south bank areas. It would also cover crucial industrial areas south of Bradford, and parts of Dewsbury, Batley and Brighouse which are home to many of the city region’s manufacturing businesses and have huge potential to expand.
The LEP has now responded to the government’s consultation, expressing its full support for the revised proposals. The consultation closed on 7 February, after which the government will submit its proposals to the EU for a final decision.
The new coverage is due to come into effect in July 2014, and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership Chair, Roger Marsh, hopes the city region will see much greater coverage from that date.
Roger Marsh said:
“The Leeds City Region is an area of incredible economic potential. I firmly believe that we can unlock that potential if we are given the powers locally to drive our economy forward.
“If confirmed, Assisted Area status for some of our key areas of economic opportunity would be another important tool we can use to help us achieve our potential. Not only will it give us more flexibility to help existing city region businesses grow, it will also make the city region an even more attractive location for businesses looking to relocate or expand into.
“The LEP worked closely with our local authority partners to develop our proposals for Assisted Area coverage and we are pleased that the government has recognised the strength of this. We have written to government expressing our full support for their current proposals and we hope that they will soon go forward to the EU for approval.”