Monday, July 7, 2014

News: Sheffield City Region secures £300m from Government


The Sheffield City Region has secured £295.2m from the Government's Local Growth Fund, the single pot that brings together funding for housing, infrastructure and skills.

The Government's new model of local economic growth centres around Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), a collaboration between businesses and the local authorities that are placed at the heart of growth in the regions. In response to the Heseltine Review, the Government has charged LEPs with putting together local growth plans that will be the basis on which the Government negotiates deals with each LEP for new levers, resources, funding and flexibility over them.

The Sheffield City Region LEP submitted its final Strategic Economic Plan in April which set an ambitious target of creating 70,000 new jobs in the Sheffield City Region by 2023.

The Sheffield City Region has secured £295.2m to support economic growth in the area – with £34.7m of new funding confirmed for 2015/16 and 105.9m from 2016/17 to 2021. Although not necessarily "new money," it is set to bring forward at least £410m of additional investment from local partners and the private sector. Combined together this will create a total new investment package of £707.3m for the Sheffield City Region LEP.

High profile projects include £120m for the M1 Junction 36 to Dearne Valley project.

Millions has also been secured for transport projects at Robin Hood Airport, Markham Vale, Chesterfield Waterside and in Sheffield City Centre.

£50m has also been provisionally awarded for the Lower Don Valley which could pave the way for the proposed southern route of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system from Sheffield city centre, along the Parkway to the Waverley development and onto Rotherham Interchange.

In addition to funding, the deal sets out areas where the LEP will hope to influence, including reviews and prioritisation of housing sites, connectivity to the proposed HS2 station, business support, skills, improving links with business, and superfast broadband.

A £100m Sheffield City Region Skills Bank is set to be created, which will provide local businesses with more of the skills they need. The city region's businesses will gain even greater control over how skills funding is spent, and will ensure that more local people get training which matches job opportunities in the area. Government will invest £21.7m over six years in the Skills Bank, with the LEP committing over £30m and local businesses investing over £50m. The Skills Bank will provide 42,000 qualifications over six years.

£13m will be dedicated to maintaining and improving the quality of college facilities across the city region and a new £20m British Glass Academy will help to support the region's successful glass manufacturing industry.

£49.5m will be used to extend the LEP's successful Regional Growth Fund programme - "Unlocking Business Investment" that provides grants to support companies using their own funding to make direct business investments that ultimately lead to creating sustainable, private sector jobs. The additional funding could create 4,000 new jobs.

A Growth Hub is also set to be created, providing a clear model for coordinating and simplifying business support so that it joins up national, local, public and private business provisions. It will be backed by £32.6m of European funding.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg (pictured, left), who chairs the Local Growth Cabinet Committee and was in Sheffield on Friday to confirm the final investment, said:" We are ending a culture of Whitehall knows best. Decisions over spending on infrastructure, business support and housing are being made at a truly local level. It will help end our over-reliance on the banks and the City of London, and generate growth, jobs, and ambition in towns and cities all across England.

"Growth Deals will create thousands of jobs, provide incredible new training opportunities for young people, build thousands of new homes and improve transport links across the country for people and their families; building a stronger economy and a fairer society.

"We're placing the power and money in the hands of the people who know how to spend it best, making a real difference to local communities."

James Newman, Chairman of Sheffield City Region LEP, added: "Sheffield City Region is getting a bigger share of the new funds than we might have expected and is clearly punching its weight when it comes to newly devolved powers and funds from Government.

"We have secured the fifth largest amount of any LEP area and we are one of a very small handful of LEPs being given significant freedoms by Government as to how we spend our funding.

"The strength of the Sheffield City Region LEP partnership, our track record and our clear and focussed plan for growth has led to us being awarded most of what we asked for, which fully justifies all the hard work and collaboration between the private and public sectors in developing the plan.

"Our Growth Deal is the first step on a journey to enable the Sheffield City Region to take control of its own economic destiny. This is a strong start and, although we have not got everything we wanted, we have done well and we look forward to working with Government to increase their trust in our LEP so we will be able to take even more of our own funding and strategic economic decisions in the future."

Sir Councillor Houghton CBE, Chair of the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority (pictured, right), said: "This Growth Deal is a step in the right direction and we will continue to work with Government to rebalance the national economy to City Regions like ourselves with strong governance and partnership working."

Sheffield City Region LEP website

Images: Sheffield City Region LEP


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