Council Leader's comment on Leeds City Region devolution deal and response to the budget

On the devolution deal for the Leeds City Region announced today, Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield said:

“This does not match our ambitions for the people of Leeds and the city region.  We were promised by the Deputy Prime Minister that there would be no strings attached in relation to governance models so we are disappointed by the lack of devolution on transport and housing investment powers. Additionally, given that our Devolved Youth Contract is getting eight out of 10 young people into work compared with three out of 10 on national programmes it's no surprise that this deal rightly gives us more influence over skills and apprenticeships.

“However, it is no compensation for the £470million of cuts that our councils have had to deliver and it falls far short of our ambition to shape our own economic destiny and create the 62,000 jobs that the people and businesses of Leeds and the city region need.

“We have demonstrated we have the appetite and ability to deliver far more to improve our economy. We shall continue to lobby and campaign for the greater powers and resources, including fiscal powers, that we need to achieve our ambitions and start the process of tackling the north-south economic divide.”

Reflecting on the chancellor's budget, Councillor Wakefield added:

“The government has already cut Leeds City Council’s budget by 40% since 2010 and the budget announcement today means continuing austerity in the coming years that will have a significant impact on local government and vital public services in Leeds.  Given that some local authorities in the south will continue to see their spending power increase  - that cannot be right.

"We desperately need actions and not words on investment in infrastructure in Leeds and West Yorkshire, especially in relation to transport connectivity, but there appears to be very little of any substance in the budget announcement in relation to that.”


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