The groundbreaking deal which will see powers and funding to boost jobs and growth transferred from national government to the Leeds City Region is to be signed today.
A formal ceremony hosted by Minister for Cities Greg Clark in London will see ministers and senior representatives from Leeds City Region sign the City Deal which was first announced in July and commit both sides to its delivery.
The deal will see a devolution of powers over decision-making and spending from Whitehall to the Leeds City Region, which is made up of 11 local authorities in Yorkshire working together and with the private sector to boost economic growth and communities.
The formal signing today focuses on six areas of activity:
– Skills and worklessness:
As part of the Leeds City Region’s aim to be NEET-free (young people Not in Education, Employment or Training) a new apprenticeship academy for 14-24-year-olds will be created in Leeds along with an apprenticeship hub to give young people and local employers across the city region access to opportunities and training with a focus on growth sectors of the local economy.
Leeds City Region will establish a £1bn transport fund to invest in public transport and the highways network. Leeds City Region is also working with other cities for devolution of the Northern Rail franchise. Greater local control over transport investment will mean people, goods and services can be moved around the city region and beyond faster and more reliably, which will accelerate economic growth.
A Leeds City Region Investment Fund of £400m to be created by pooling local and government resources. This will enable faster decisions to be made on investment in infrastructure that are in line with local priorities.
– Trade and inward investment:
Leeds City Region and UKTI (United Kingdom Trade & Investment) to work together to increase exports from our local companies and to attract more inward investment into the City Region to accelerate growth and create jobs.
– Business-friendly planning:
Leeds City Region will deliver a more business-friendly planning system – for example, councils have already agreed a new planning charter that will speed up the way that both local authorities and developers deal with major investment projects.
Leeds City Region will reduce carbon emissions and encourage the growth of the green economy through, for example, delivery of the Domestic Energy Efficiency Programme (over £10m private investment to improve energy efficiency in over 20,000 homes) and the development of a City Region Green Deal that will further improve energy efficiency for consumers in the future.
Through the City Deal it is hoped that over 25,000 new jobs could be created in the medium term, as well as up to 15,000 new apprenticeship places in the next four years.
Councillor Peter Box CBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Leaders Board and Leader of Wakefield Council, said:
Today signals what we hope is the start of a long-term commitment and recognition that the best way for regions to develop and grow is to give local people in these areas more control and the decision-making ability to make a real difference.
There is a wealth of talent and resources in the Leeds City Region, and this City Deal gives us the chance to harness that more fully and bring about economic growth, job creation and opportunities and improvements for all.
Neil McLean, Chair of the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, said:
This deal is an important step towards realising the potential of the Leeds City Region. It gives us the tools to drive investment at serious scale in priorities we determine for ourselves, building on all the momentum we have developed as a public-private partnership. The challenge now is to ensure we take full advantage of the opportunity and derive maximum benefit from it to drive up skills performance, enhance our infrastructure and raise our game significantly on exports and inward investment.
Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council, said:
Today’s signing is a very significant moment for Leeds and the wider city region as it gives us the chance to start controlling our own destiny in ways that we have never been able to before.
The deal offers much-needed hope to young people by creating new apprenticeships and job opportunities, as well as providing major economic benefits through transport and infrastructure improvements which will in turn make Leeds and the region more attractive to investors both in the UK and from overseas.
Leeds and the wider city region makes a vital contribution to the UK economy and we believe we can become an even greater powerhouse by galvanising our collective assets through this City Deal.