Spending Review ‘pits regions against each other’ – Sheffield City Region mayor

South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis has hit out at Chancellor Rishi Sunak for putting levelling up the north ‘on hold’.

Wednesday, 25th November 2020, 4:52 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th November 2020, 6:20 pm

Mr Sunak announced a £4bn pot for the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda but the money will be handed out from London on the consent of regional MPs and not automatically devolved to areas with a working devolution deal.

Mayor Jarvis, who is also MP for Barnsley Central, said the announcement ‘pits regions against each other in bids for piecemeal pots of funding’.

The Chancellor said in the House of Commons that the money will help rebalance the north/south divide.

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Mayor of the Sheffield City Region Dan Jarvis. Picture: Chris Etchells

The Sheffield City Region Mayor who was elected in 2018, added that the Spending Review ‘lacked clout’ and didn’t have the ‘wholesale transformation’ it needed.

He said: “At the moment we needed Government to deliver a New Deal for the North, the Spending Review lacked clout, coherence and continued to tinker at the margins – when a wholesale transformation was needed to rise to the challenge of the biggest economic upheaval in generations.

“Instead of delivering levelling up, the Chancellor put it on hold with unnecessary pilots that pits regions against each other in bids for piecemeal pots of funding.

“We needed a substantial, devolved and ambitious Shared Prosperity Fund to kick start economic recovery and renewal across the North. In South Yorkshire, using the Local Growth Fund, we have created and protected thousands of jobs, improved worker’s skills, built new infrastructure and attracted world-leading firms.

Other main points in the Spending Review included a pay rise for doctors and nurses but a freeze on pay for firefighters, teachers, armed forces, police, civil servants, council and Government staff.

A total of £18bn to be spent on Covid testing, PPE and vaccines next year and the health budget in England to rise by £6bn, including an extra £3bn for the NHS to cope with Covid-19 pressures.

Mayor Jarvis added: “I have long called for the Green Book to be rewritten, and this is a welcome change. Yet the long-arm of the Treasury continues to tighten its grip.

"The Government previously told Metro Mayors we would lead the economic recovery, yet the Levelling Up Fund and Restart schemes involve more top down control. It is another flawed attempt to deliver the recovery from Westminster.

“Instead, Ministers need to let go and back local leaders with investment and powers so we can get on with the job and drive the transformation of our economy from the North, rather than a desk in Whitehall.”

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