A new directly-elected West Yorkshire mayor has been announced with the Government signing a new devolution deal amid plans to ‘level up’ the UK economy.
It comes ahead of this summer’s White Paper, which will detail how the Government intends to meet its ambition for full devolution across England.
Announced as part of chancellor Rishi Sunak’s first Budget, the West Yorkshire deal will provide £1.1bn of investment for the area over 30 years, as well as devolving new decision-making powers on transport, planning and skills, with the new mayor elected in May 2021.
The Budget policy paper read: ‘This devolution deal is an important step in delivering on our levelling up agenda by giving power and investment to local areas.’
Shadow minister for devolution, Jim McMahon, said: ‘After more than five years of delay and disappointment, this deal will provide significant financial support.’
Bradford City Council leader, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, said the deal was the ‘biggest per capita devolution deal in the UK so far’.
She added: ‘The deal gives West Yorkshire access to significant funding and powers over the next 30 years to meet the needs and ambitions of our communities, including better public transport, improved skills, support for business and investment in our heritage while also tackling the climate emergency.’
Adam Cunnington, chief executive of Public Sector Plc, said: 'While the creation of a new West Yorkshire Mayor is another positive step on the way to more local devolution the most crucial issue facing local authorities is the uncertainty over their funding and we really need to get this done as soon as possible so that councils can make plans for local public services that communities need.'
The Government also committed to moving 22,000 civil service roles out of central London within the next decade and establishing a ‘significant new campus’ in the north of England focused on economic decision-making that will include teams from the Treasury, Department for International Trade, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
A review of the Green Book, which details how decisions on major investment programmes are appraised, will take place in order to ‘make sure that government investment spreads opportunity across the UK’.
In addition, the Budget announced £242m to fund a further four city and growth deals across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which builds on the £2.5bn already allocated to existing deals.