Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
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Government signs off devolved powers for Leeds to shape its economic destiny
A pioneering agreement has devolved new powers to Leeds City Region to take control of its economic recovery, Local Government Minister Rosie Winterton announced recently.
Leeds is one of the first city regions in the country to have unprecedented local powers from central government for delivering housing, regeneration and transport commitments and new freedoms on skills and innovation signed off.
Greater decision making on funding for housing, regeneration transport, employment and skills will be localised after the agreement is ratified and signed in Harrogate by Rosie Winterton and Councillor Carter, Chair of the Leeds City Region Leaders Board today.
Local Government Minister and Regional Minister for Yorkshire and Humber Rosie Winterton said:
"This Government is committed to devolving powers that will improve local leadership, drive up economic growth and deliver greater prosperity. This is what the city-region pilots are all about.
"The recession may have been global in its origins but the effects have been felt locally, in communities across Yorkshire and beyond. The City Region pilot will play a crucial role in tackling the fallout from the downturn and making sure that the city region is ready to seize the opportunities opening up as the recovery begins.
"This is one of the first city-region pilots and it will test what freedoms and powers local areas need to ensure they make an even greater contribution to regional and national growth. City-regions will be critical to the future competitiveness of our economy and they can accelerate our recovery from the recession.
"Leeds is an economic powerhouse in the north and makes a huge contribution to regional and national output and we will continue to work with Leeds City Region to see how we can push this even further."
Key commitments include:
- London style powers over housing and regeneration funding allowing local leaders to target public money where it's most needed. A new Housing and Regeneration Board will lead on key programmes, and to have more control over how funding is spent in the City Region. The Government is committed to supporting this, recently approving £34m Kickstart funding across the City Region to deliver 766 new homes
- Building a new generation of sustainable housebuilding and community building that will support jobs growth. For example a green programme that aims to deliver zero carbon communities including up to 28,000 new homes to high eco standards - which is expected to provide 43,700 jobs
- A related programme will work with government and key industry partners to accelerate retrofit activity in existing property, with an ambition of improving 300,000 homes by 2015 and lifting 50,000 households out of fuel poverty. This will build on the successful and award-winning Warm Zone pilot in Kirklees. Government will be working closely with the City Region to prioritise investment towards these outcomes, through the Joint Board
- Greater control over the skills and employment programmes delivered locally to allow the partnership to tailor provision to the needs of local people and businesses
- An Employment and Skills Board, which will be driven by local employers, will mean the city-region has the power to influence how employment and skills programmes are delivered in the city-region, therefore equipping people with the skills they need for employment and the skills local businesses require to compete in the global economy.
Councillor Andrew Carter, Chair of the Leeds City Region Leaders Board, said:
"Today's launch is an important step in devolving more powers and control over funding to local government. I am delighted that the Leeds City Region is one of only two new pilots in the UK. By taking up the new powers, our local authorities will be better equipped to work with local businesses and partners to drive forward economic recovery."
Liam Byrne, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said:
"Cities like Leeds will play a key role in driving future national growth and helping us to halve the deficit in four years.
"Leeds has been an economic success story over the last decade and today's agreement shows our shared commitment with local government and businesses to ensure the city-region continues to be an economic success.
I look forward to seeing the benefits this partnership will deliver for the local economy."
The partnership will focus on building sustainable housing growth, a skilled workforce, a world class transport system and a globally renowned innovation capital to allow the area to realise its potential to become globally competitive.
The Leeds City Region Partnership brings together the eleven local authorities across the city region: Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield, York and North Yorkshire.
Leeds City Region has a population of over 3 million people with 100,000 businesses and a £47bn economy. The region accounts for 5 per cent of national GVA therefore making it critical to the future competitiveness of the economy.
Local leaders will now have a crucial role in delivering the recovery as the Government recognises the region's significance for the country's future growth.
The city-region pilot will test how the Government can deliver improved economic outcomes by allowing partnerships of local authorities greater policy levers across our major cities.
Through the pilot, the government aims to establish a sustainable model of city economic leadership to drive one of the North's most powerful engines of economic growth.
Greater Manchester is the other City Region pilot to be receiving greater powers from the Government. Details of this agreement will be announced shortly.
Notes to editors
1. Around 300 business leaders, politicians and Leeds City Region partners gather in Harrogate on Friday for the Leeds City Region summit. It will promote the fact that the Partnership that brings together 11 local authorities throughout the region. Hard-hitting debates and panel discussions will consider the city region's objectives in what is expected to be an important day for those involved in the city region.
2. Other commitments include:
- Piloting innovative solutions around water neutrality, sustainable transport and combined heat and power (where a scheme in Aire Valley has been recently awarded £1m through the Low Carbon Infrastructure Fund), and to develop a workforce that skilled and experienced in green eco development
- The pilot will support the city-region's aspirations to become a globally-renowned innovation capital, building on the city-region's strengths such as Science City York, Bradford Learning Quarter and Innovation City Leeds. It will help the city-region provide additional support to businesses affected by the downturn and help prepare businesses for the upturn
- Regenerate major brownfield areas in Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees, and York. Creating high quality places where people want to live, work, and invest and where sustainability and the highest standards of design are paramount.
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