Leeds has secured a groundbreaking deal from government over the transfer of national powers and funding to boost jobs and growth in the city region.
The deal gives Leeds and its partner councils in the city region unprecedented control over spending and decision-making to help businesses grow and ensure future investment is in line with the city region’s needs.
To help with the delivery of short and longer term growth initiatives, a £1bn fund will be put in place for investment in public transport and the highways network, with the potential to create 20,000 jobs in the medium term. A further £400m fund will be available to modernise infrastructure across the city region.
The City Deal will help develop a better environment for business and investment, allowing a more streamlined, targeted approach to growth and long term job creation.
Other specific measures include:
- support for the creation of a14-24 apprenticeship academy in Leeds, giving young people and local employers access to opportunities and training
- the development of an ‘Apprenticeship Hub’ network to encourage 7,500 new employers to take on apprentices, aiming to generate 15,000 new apprenticeships in the next four years.
- better transport services to enable people, goods and services to be moved around the city region and beyond more effectively
- initiatives to increase overseas trade and inward investment activity, which could bring 7,400 jobs by 2018.
Cllr Peter Box CBE, Chair of the LCR Partnership and Leader of Wakefield Council said:
This is major first step forward towards delivering our city region priorities and I hope it will lead to even greater devolution of power from Whitehall to the regions.
The Deal gives the Partnership more powers to act quickly to achieve economic growth, create more jobs and work more efficiently across the whole region.
It means we can support businesses to grow, cut through red-tape and get make sure everyone in the workforce is in education, employment or training.
We will now have a much bigger say in what happens in our region and can use our local knowledge to get resources to the areas which need them most. We can access better links to national and international business and trade, opening up opportunities for the whole Leeds City Region with the potential fund of £400m to underpin our local economy.
Other key benefits of the City Deal include ultra-fast broadband access to 88,000 homes, and over 16,000 businesses, with the intention to roll this out throughout the Leeds City Region by 2015, as well as full wireless coverage in Leeds and Bradford city centres by the end of 2012.
The City Deal announced today is part of ongoing negotiations with central government, including business friendly planning, reducing the city region’s carbon footprint and developing the low carbon business sector.
Neil McLean, Chair of the Leeds City Region local enterprise partnership said:
The city deal is the result of months of discussion and refinement and really starts to unlock the potential of the City Region and our ability to grow the economy and employment through investment in skills, infrastructure, trade and investment and progress on our low carbon and planning agendas.
Councillor Keith Wakefield, Leader of the Leeds City Council said:
Today’s announcement is hugely significant for Leeds, for the eleven local authorities that make up the City Region and for the North as a whole.
This deal spells the beginning of a fundamental shift in the relationship between Whitehall and the regions. It marks the first steps of a new era which will allow the North to truly control its own destiny.
The deal gives hope to young people by allowing us to create thousands of new apprenticeships, offering a much needed boost to the economy at a very difficult time.
It also gives us the opportunity and the means to transform our transport system so that travel to other cities becomes easier and faster. A better transport system will mean high productivity, lower costs and more jobs.
We chose to make this city deal for the whole Leeds City Region because we realise that the only way to achieve our collective potential is to work together with Bradford, Wakefield, Kirklees, Calderdale and York and the wider city region to create the jobs that we need.