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Devolution Deal for Leeds City Region

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18 Mar 2015

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has agreed a devolution deal with government, giving council leaders and businesses greater influence over investment decisions on skills, transport, housing and support for small businesses.

As a result of the agreement announced today (Wednesday 18 March) the Combined Authority, working with the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), will address skills shortages in key industry sectors and ensure that skills provision is driven by the needs of businesses through greater influence over local further education budgets and courses. They will also have greater flexibility to encourage more small businesses to take on apprentices, building on the LEP’s apprenticeship programme which has created opportunities for over 1,000 young people in the past two years.

Businesses in the City Region will benefit from a simpler, more responsive business support system, making it easier for small firms and entrepreneurs to get the support and funding they need to grow. Alongside this there will be a more flexible relationship with UKTI in the City Region, ensuring that support to help companies break into export markets is tailored to the needs of local firms and fast-growing sectors.

The agreement also allows for a different working relationship with national agencies including the Homes and Communities Agency, Highways England and Network Rail, giving the Combined Authority a greater say over long-term transport and housing planning so that national planning and investment decisions are informed by local priorities.

The devolution agreement recognises the enhanced governance arrangements put in place in the region following the establishment of the Combined Authority in April 2014 and allows for negotiations on further devolution of powers and investment with any future governance changes being subject to consultation by the Combined Authority.

Commenting on today’s Budget, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Chair Roger Marsh said:

“This final Budget of the current Parliament contained some positive announcements for businesses and growth in Leeds City Region.

“Our region has the fastest digital jobs growth of any city region outside London, alongside world-leading strengths in financial technology, so the confirmation of a £3.7 million Future Lab tech hub and funding for a FinTech incubator is welcome news. With spiralling costs locking many tech start-ups out of the capital, this cements Leeds City Region as the natural place for ambitious tech companies to set up and grow quickly with access to a lower cost, highly skilled labour market.

“Our Enterprise Zone is rapidly establishing itself as one of the biggest investment opportunities in the country and the announcement of enhanced capital allowances will enable us to attract yet more businesses by strengthening our package of financial incentives, particularly for companies making large-scale capital investments.

“I am pleased as well that the Leeds City Region has reached a devolution agreement with government. Would we have liked more? Yes. Is this the end of the process? Absolutely not. Our region’s scale and business strengths are making a real difference to UK global competitiveness, so come 8 May we will be banging on government’s door to secure all of the pounds and powers we need to deliver our ambitious agenda for growth and ensure the Northern Powerhouse becomes an economic reality with our region at its centre.

“Nevertheless as a result of this devolution agreement, the 2012 City Deal and our Growth Deals – the largest of any LEP in the country – we now have control of devolved funding approaching £2 billion.  That’s not a bad start, but the job’s not yet done.”