The Government must deliver a Budget which unleashes the North’s potential and unlocks prosperity for South Yorkshire, starting with immediate investment in an ambitious jobs plan for the region.
This week, the Mayor pressed the Secretary of State Kwasi Kwarteng on plans for the successor to the Local Growth Fund, which would help create 6000 highly-skilled jobs in the region and attract £600 million in investment in the region’s economy.
Doing so would build on South Yorkshire’s strengths in advanced manufacturing, clean energy, creative and scientific research, helping the region to recover from the impact of Brexit and COVID.
The Local Growth Fund, which has helped the region attract the likes of Boeing, McLaren and Curvalux and leveraged £92 million of investment, will be replaced by the Levelling Up Fund (LUF). In its current capacity, the LUF has no flexibility to provide business support, hindering local leaders’ plans to deliver a jobs-led recovery after the pandemic.
Unemployment in the region has increased sharply since the pandemic began and 6.5% of people in South Yorkshire are now claiming unemployment benefit, the highest rate since 1997, prompting the Mayor to repeat his calls for a New Deal for the North and urging the Chancellor to invest in his Renewal Action Plan, which sets out the roadmap to economic renewal and a stronger, greener and fairer South Yorkshire in the wake of the pandemic, through investment in jobs, skills and infrastructure.
In the region’s Budget submission, Mayor Jarvis told the Chancellor Rishi Sunak:
“Your Budget Statement is a critical and timely opportunity to kick-start the process of not just recovery, but renewal. After a year like no other, it must provide much needed certainty and support for businesses and the urgency of this task cannot be understated.
“The Spending Review provided some welcome support for skills and infrastructure, but there was little detail about funding allocations and the role of Mayors in delivery, nor any direct support to unlock inward investment in our regions that will create jobs and unlock productivity and prosperity.”
“Your Budget must go much further. In short, it must provide a New Deal for the North. In South
Yorkshire, we have a plan to unleash our potential and play our part. It is based on greater investment and devolution to deliver the jobs, skills and infrastructure which will create a stronger, greener and fairer future for people, places and businesses across South Yorkshire. Our ambitious and shovel-ready Renewal Action Plan (RAP) was specifically developed for this purpose, after Government commissioned Metro Mayors to lead this agenda.”
The Mayoral Combined Authority is investing £50million in delivering its Renewal Action Plan (RAP), but more commitment is needed from the Government. The RAP will support 55,000 people into work or training, help 25,000 businesses to adapt and innovate, and support key priorities including the transition to net zero. The RAP sets out the roadmap to creating a stronger, greener and fairer South Yorkshire after the coronavirus pandemic.
The Mayor is also calling for Government to:
- Protect the region’s flood ravaged communities. Following the £80m secured by the Mayor from the Environment Agency, he is pressing Ministers to go further by closing the £125 million gap in the South Yorkshire Flooding Priority Programme to protect 2,800 businesses and 10,300 homes in the region.
- Keep South Yorkshire moving: with demand so severely impacted on bus, tram and tram-train services, revenue support will continue to be needed from Government to sustain an appropriate service level that keeps our key workers, people and daily life moving. There is an urgent need for clarity on tram funding beyond March, and commitments on transitioning to post-pandemic demand.
Read the full letter here.