Plan to create 36,000 new jobs in Leeds City Region unveiled

The bodies charged with delivering economic growth in Leeds City Region have unveiled a new economic plan with 10 big impact initiatives that will transform the economy and create thousands of extra jobs over the next 20 years.

The revised Strategic Economic Plan (the Plan) for the City Region sets out how the LEP and West Yorkshire Combined Authority (CA) will create an additional 35,700 jobs for local people over the next 20 years, and grow the City Region economy at a faster rate than the national average.

The Plan sets out 10 “big impact” initiatives that the LEP and CA will deliver with partners from the public and private sectors and government. These include the ambition for a “Metro-style” public transport network allowing people to travel across the City Region easily and affordably by bus and rail through smart ticketing and clear, straightforward pricing covering all forms of public transport.

Building on recent successes in increasing the City Region’s share of inward investment, and recent growth in the region’s data security and digital sectors, the Plan sets out an ambition of making the City Region a leading centre for tech jobs and talent. Meanwhile reducing the risk of flooding to homes, communities and businesses through innovative use of the natural environment is another top priority.

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the LEP, said:

“Our revised Plan sets out the initiatives that will take us on the next stage of our journey towards making the City Region not just self-sufficient, but an above average contributor to the national economy.

“It is unacceptable to me that in 2016 there are still so many people in our region living in disadvantage, which is why we want to balance higher levels of business growth with measures to ensure everyone in the City Region has the opportunity of a good job and a good life. The focus of our Plan is not just growth for growth’s sake but good growth that enables all of our communities to feel the benefits of a strong economy.

“This plan sharpens our focus on delivering that ambition – through the £2 billion devolved investment we’ve already secured, and the full devolution we are negotiating with government. We’ve already achieved a great deal through effective local leadership and partnership working, but transforming our economy will require us to be persistent, patient, and purposeful. By refocusing our priorities in line with the changing economic climate we believe we’re putting ourselves in the driving seat of economic growth within the Northern Powerhouse and indeed the country as a whole.”

Cllr Peter Box, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority said:

“The work of the Combined Authority, LEP and its partner councils to date illustrates what can be achieved through locally determined priorities, local leadership and local partnership working.

“Through the Growth Deal, European funding settlement and other public and private sector investment the LEP and CA have brought around £2bn extra funding into the City Region. As a result, we’re on track to create 35,700 extra jobs over the next 20 years and make the City Region a near £100bn economy by 2036. If government agrees to match our ambition for a meaningful devolution deal, we can go even further and create a genuine Northern counterweight to London and the South East.

“Through this plan we’re setting our own growth agenda, focusing on the needs and priorities of our residents and businesses rather than waiting for government to tell us how to spend money locally. Now we need government to commit to the devolution deal that’s currently on the table, so that we can realise the full potential of this plan for the benefit of the millions of people who live and work here.”

The revised Strategic Economic Plan builds on an earlier LEP plan which, in 2014, secured a £1 billion Growth Deal with government – the largest such deal of any local enterprise partnership area in the country – which included “gainshare” arrangements for transport only recently matched by other city regions in their devolution deals.

The ultimate ambition outlined in the Strategic Economic Plan is to grow the City Region economy at a rate above the national average – making the City Region an overall contributor to the UK economy.

Other projects set out in the plan include initiatives to close the gap to the national average on higher level skills and become a “NEET-free” City Region, increase levels of business innovation, and supporting regeneration in strategic growth areas across the City Region.

Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, said:

“I’m very pleased to add my support to this dynamic strategy, which complements our own ambitions for Leeds to develop a strong economy in a compassionate city where opportunity is available to all.

“To deliver real results, ambition and realism need to go hand-in-hand. We will continue to push hard for the properly-devolved powers to enable us to deliver the maximum benefits as these plans are developed.

“Economic progress must be firmly underpinned by infrastructure: so for instance the ability to be able to travel easily to your place of employment is imperative. Skills training is a major priority to enable people locally to be ready to make the most of the expected economic benefits.

“We will settle for nothing less than a region that has both drive and heart. A place at the forefront of leading its own and the UK’s economy forward while ensuring its own citizens benefit from the growth and investment this strategy aims to deliver.”

Through the £125m LEP investment made between 2011-15 the LEP and CA will, by 2020, have created 3,200 additional jobs and £1.4 billion in extra economic growth for the City Region. 4,300 businesses have been supported in that time, unlocking half a billion pounds of private sector investment.

For more information about the Strategic Economic Plan and to download a copy of the new document, please click here.