£1.7bn plan to kick-start South Yorkshire’s economic renewal

//£1.7bn plan to kick-start South Yorkshire’s economic renewal

Published 2nd July 2020 at 9:30am

The Government have been urged to back ambitious plans to kick-start South Yorkshire’s economic fightback from the coronavirus pandemic, with an immediate £1.7bn investment in the region’s people, businesses and places.

The proposals will support over 55,000 training and job opportunities, back 25,000 businesses, create 3,000 apprenticeships, and revitalise South Yorkshire’s towns centres. The plan will put in place the foundations for the region’s future prosperity – by giving workers and businesses the skills and support they need to thrive after the pandemic.

The Sheffield City Region (SCR) Renewal Action Plan has been developed by Mayor Dan Jarvis and the LEP, alongside the region’s business community, councils, civic leaders, trade unions, universities and voluntary sector. Its first phase has been put to the Prime Minister and Chancellor by Mayor Jarvis, following the Prime Minister’s speech on Covid-19 recovery and ahead of an economic statement from the Chancellor next week.

The aim of the plan is to support people, businesses and places across South Yorkshire, with the interventions designed to make the region’s economy stronger, fairer and greener.

The first wave of proposals include:

  • A ‘South Yorkshire Works’ training and jobs guarantee for people, helping young people and workers secure jobs, apprenticeships and training – equipping them with skills needed to find good work and help companies grow.
  • An investment and innovation fund for business – with the SCR Mayoral Combined Authority and LEP providing funding and specialist business support so more businesses survive, adapt and thrive.
  • An infrastructure stimulus in places across the region – revitalising and adapting town centres to Covid-19, upgrading transport links, funding projects that provide green growth and jobs through retrofitting, building flood defences and helping business decarbonise, reaching net zero emissions ahead of 2040 targets.

Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, Dan Jarvis, said: “The investment we are asking for will help not just rescue the South Yorkshire economy but level it up. It will back our people and our entrepreneurs when they need it the most. It will help create better as well as more jobs, and it will speed up the road to net zero emissions while making our communities stronger. It will help not just South Yorkshire, but the whole country.

“A recovery plan driven from Whitehall will only repeat the mistakes of the past, perpetuating inequalities between London and the regions. That’s why I have called for a New Deal for the North – an ambitious programme of investment and devolution in a stronger, fairer, greener future for South Yorkshire and the North.

“This plan is a first step towards that vision and an initial £1.7bn down payment will help lay the foundations for an economy built on high-skilled, high-productivity, high-paid jobs. We must take this opportunity to build back better, so we see not just recovery, but renewal.”

James Muir, Chair of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “This is an excellent plan that sets the right priorities for the region to deal with the immediate impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The consultative process has been thorough and inclusive and I am delighted to be able to endorse the plan, with the confidence that our public and private sector leaders stand behind it.

“We are determined to build back an economy that is stronger, more resilient and provides a higher proportion of higher skilled, better paid jobs. Our submission to government contains ambitious initiatives to stimulate investment in strengthening and growing businesses, as well as launching a broad programme of construction and infrastructure renovation. The plan places a key emphasis on supporting people to improve their earning capacity through training, retraining and upskilling. Increasing our skills base is the best way to improve the well-being of our population, attract new inward investment and stimulate positive economic growth.”

Beckie Hart, CBI Yorkshire & the Humber Regional Director, said: “Business welcomes the hard work of the Sheffield City Region in developing a clear plan to support industry in the wake of this crisis. A jobs-first recovery, underpinned by infrastructure investment, could limit the economic impacts which risks damaging communities across South Yorkshire for generations.

“Government must get ahead of the economic impact with the next wave of targeted support, recognising and responding to the local and regional priorities set out in this Renewal Action Plan. This includes increased funding for local leaders in order to accelerate infrastructure upgrades, and help create dynamic, local labour markets.”

The full renewal plan is being developed by the Mayor and the LEP, in partnership with the Covid-19 Economic Recovery Group, Local Authorities, universities, colleges, community organisations, the private sector and trade unions. It will be put before the Mayoral Combined Authority in full on Monday July 27.