Ministers have no excuse to delay Yorkshire devolution. We have been in negotiations for some time, but progress has been painfully slow. 18 out of 20 Yorkshire Councils want it, and the election of Dan Jarvis in Sheffield City Region makes the case harder to ignore.
Arguments in favour are well rehearsed. It would double the size of Yorkshire’s economy over the next 30 years. This would also help rebalance the national economy, with areas in the north contributing much more than they do now. It would enable increased investment in infrastructure, which has fallen woefully behind in recent times.
Social benefits for very deprived communities in cities like Leeds would be significant. The limited devolution we’ve already had has shown local control means better outcomes.
Take our Devolved Youth Contract that helped over 2000 young people move into education or employment. It had an 81% success rate compared to the national equivalent of 65%.
Then our local Business Growth Programme has levered in £8 of private sector investment for every £1 spent on supporting businesses to expand, creating over 3000 new jobs across the Leeds City Region.
The scale of the opportunity is huge. We need to make sure all communities across Yorkshire benefit from devolution. City economies like Leeds have performed well in recent years, but still have far too many people unemployed or in low paid jobs. We need better jobs and better social outcomes. This needs government to trust local areas more and give greater local control to places like Yorkshire which stand a much better chance of delivering the improvements many people so desperately need.