Combined Authority vision for a productive, inclusive, globally recognised region

Speaking ahead of giving the opening address at today's West Yorkshire Economic Growth Conference in Leeds, Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, said:

“Our region has so much to be proud of and I firmly believe that we need to shout much more loudly about our achievements. As we enter a period of profound change nationally however, there are a number of challenges and opportunities that we must work together to address regionally if we are to ensure that our economy remains globally competitive and our people have the best possible quality of life.

“For too many people, our region’s economy isn’t working well enough at the moment but gone are the days when government alone can plug gaps in living standards. As a businesswoman myself before I entered politics, I’m well aware it’s good businesses creating wealth and jobs that holds the key to a better quality of life for people in our region.

Absolute best

“Part of becoming more self-reliant as a nation and as a region is ensuring that we’re all –public and private sectors alike – the absolute best we can be, whether that’s increasing productivity by investing in R&D, training or technology and improving quality of life by enabling people to find good jobs with good prospects for progression, ending the in-work poverty that is holding too many people – and businesses – back at present.

“It’s incumbent on the public sector, both local and national, to help set the conditions for businesses to thrive. Absolutely central to achieving this is having the right investment and powers at our disposal so that we can focus on those issues that will have the greatest positive impact on our region. This is why I’m calling for Government to work with politicians and business leaders across Yorkshire to find a way to bring the benefits of devolution that people in Manchester, Teesside, Birmingham and other places are already experiencing here. Devolution isn’t an end goal in itself, but it’s absolutely fundamental to giving our region a strong voice on the national and international stage, and taking the right decisions about the issues that most affect us.”

In her speech Cllr Hinchcliffe talked about Leeds City Region’s enormous economic potential, and the three key challenges - improved productivity - inclusive growth - the ambitious approach to devolution that has eluded Yorkshire for too long - that business and the public sector must address together if the region is to achieve this potential.

Resolution to devolution deadlock

Roger Marsh OBE Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) used today’s conference to call for a resolution to the devolution deadlock that has seen Leeds City Region and Yorkshire left without an ambitious devolution deal for close to two years.

Marsh said: “The North currently receives £45bn in taxpayer support annually, which is why the Northern Powerhouse initiative is so important to growing our economy and creating more good quality jobs to help people progress and prosper – tackling the national deficit in the process.

“And a meaningful devolution deal in our region is utterly fundamental to realising the full extent of our – and Government’s - ambitions.

“With it, we can be the engine behind the Northern Powerhouse – rather than the missing piece of that Powerhouse, which we have been for too long.

It can't be one rule for us and one rule for everyone else

“Yorkshire’s patience is running out. It is no longer acceptable for there to be one rule for the rest of the country and another one for us. Indeed, as the North’s biggest economic contributor and largest population centre, it’s not in the national interest for this devolution stalemate to continue.

“Government has asked us for bottom-up solutions. Well, we’ve given them several. For over two years I’ve been backing a Leeds City Region deal, based on a clear economic footprint and a clear economic strategy. I still believe that economic outcomes should be the focus of any devolution deal in our region. However, if a City Region deal cannot be done then I welcome the efforts of those Leaders who are coming together to explore other solutions.

“I hope Government will show the same constructive spirit and work with politicians and business leaders to get the right deal. Now is the time for bold, decisive action so that our region can play its full part in writing the country’s next economic chapter.”