Yorkshire metro mayor Dan Jarvis says failure to focus on devolution in Budget is "another missed opportunity"

Yorkshire's only metro mayor has claimed the lack of references to devolution of powers and resources in the Budget represented "another missed opportunity" as he pressed a Minister over the Government's response to the detailed One Yorkshire proposals.

Wednesday, 31st October 2018, 2:12 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st November 2018, 4:26 am

Sheffield City Region mayor and Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis used a Commons debate on local authority funding to call for an end to "an economic and political model in which the only hope is for wealth to trickle down and prosperity to ripple out".

He pushed his fellow Yorkshire MP Rishi Sunak, the Minister responsible for local government, for an answer on when the Government would be responding to the submission earlier this month of the economic case for a region-wide devolution deal.

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The Labour MP told the Commons: "It is not just a matter of basic courtesy that this happens soon; it is in everybody’s interests—the Government’s and all our local authorities across Yorkshire—to move it forward as quickly as possible."

Richmond MP Mr Sunak, who defended the Conservative Government's record on supporting cash-strapped local authorities, agreed on the importance of devolving powers to local people and said One Yorkshire devolution was "of some personal interest to me".

But said there was "no fixed timeframe" for a response to the One Yorkshire documents submitted on October 10 by 18 of the region's 20 local authority leaders and Mr Jarvis.

He said a long-awaited "devolution framework" document, which is being drawn up by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Governments and sets out how vital and powers and resources in future, would be published towards the end of this year.

The documents submitted this month set out how a Yorkshire-wide devolution deal could boost the region's economy by up to £30bn a year by allowing more businesses to be created and boosting exports.

The Government has so far rebuffed leaders' arguments about the merits of handing powers to a One Yorkshire mayor, and says it will not start talks on the proposals until the Sheffield City Region deal has been fully implemented.

Mr Jarvis was elected in May with virtually no powers or resources after the leaders of Doncaster and Barnsley councils pulled out of the £30m-a-year devolution deal signed in 2015.

During his speech, Mr Jarvis said: "If we are to enable the right level of devolution to take place, we need to abandon an economic and political model in which the only hope is for wealth to trickle down and prosperity to ripple out.

"We must replace it with a three-tier system of government—local, regional and national—giving each tier the powers and resources it needs to make a difference in the communities for which it is responsible.

"Only if we do this correctly will we put the right people at the heart of decision making, end the status quo whereby so many people have become disenfranchised, and allow communities to overcome the challenges they face and to thrive.

"Greater funding and stronger powers for our local authorities should be the first stage of that journey—but yesterday’s Budget represented, I am afraid, another missed opportunity."

He added that through his position he had worked "closely with all of Yorkshire’s local authority leaders, many of whom will be very well known to the Minister".

And he added: "I can tell the House that the work that those local authorities do is of the highest standard of public service, but for too long the reputations of local authorities have been smeared with accusations of profligacy; their councillors have been accused of a lack of concern for value for money and their workers have faced accusations of idleness.

"In my experience, all these allegations are unfounded, and have served only to undermine the important role that local authorities play in our communities and to serve as justification for eight years of budgetary cuts."