Message to Government – hold your nerve!
As the Sheffield City Region LEP gets ready for devolved powers and funds from Whitehall, I am calling on Government to hold its nerve and ensure that it follows through on its own recommendations.
This is a critical time for the UK economy but the Government has been clear about what it needs to do to return the nation to economic health – hand back power and funding and enable our City Regions to make the key decisions which will grow our economy and create sustainable employment.
It’s five years since the banking crisis took hold and the UK economy is still crawling – narrowly avoiding a third dip into recession only last month. The pressure on the Government is greater than ever but I am receiving disturbing messages from Whitehall about a ‘battle’ that is underway with some departments looking to retain control of funding.
I think it is time for Ministers and Civil Service to accept that they must start to redistribute power away from Whitehall and they must not be timid about it.
Leaders from the City Region’s public and private sectors have responded to Government promises of greater devolution by strengthening our local leadership, determining an agreed and fair method for prioritising how our funds are spent, and creating a shared strategy for future economic growth.
Local leaders have already proved that we can use Government money to unlock huge amounts of private sector growth – removing red tape and efficiently utilising over £100m of Government money to unlock untapped skills, transport, infrastructure and business growth potential in the Sheffield City Region.
Ministers tell us time-after-time that the best funding decisions are those made closest to the people on which they have the biggest impact. On 26 June this year the Chancellor will have the opportunity to devolve the funds and powers, and the Sheffield City Region is calling on Government to ensure that this happens.