Sheffield City Region approves £860m “new deal for South Yorkshire”

Elliot Chappell

Labour Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis and the leaders of South Yorkshire’s councils have approved an £860m coronavirus recovery stimulus package described as a “new deal for South Yorkshire”.

In a meeting this morning, the combined authority backed the recommendation to “begin delivery immediately” on the plan to support recovery from the pandemic with £358m of funding in 2021/22 and a further £500m for 2022/23.

“We will not be blown off course by Covid. We’re working to create a stronger, greener, fairer South Yorkshire for all – delivering not just recovery, but renewal,” Dan Jarvis said this morning, commenting on the package.

“Our plan sends a message of ambition and confidence: that South Yorkshire’s best days lie ahead of us, and that we’re making our region an even better place to live, work and invest.”

The package will this year see £214m allocated to transport and the environment; £68m for housing, infrastructure and planning; a £37m sum boosting education, skills and employment; and £21m pledged to support business growth and recovery.

From 2022, the plan will create the South Yorkshire Renewal Fund worth up to £500m from the MCA’s gainshare funds with around £300m allocated to investment in infrastructure and transport and £200m for jobs and skills.

“Rather than Westminster calling the shots, it means local leaders and I can deliver on the priorities that matter to people in South Yorkshire and improve people’s lives,” the mayor added. “This is the power of devolution, and we will use to deliver a new deal for South Yorkshire.”

Labour Sheffield City Council leader Bob Johnson said: “We are investing in this deal so that the people in our region can continue to have confidence in Sheffield as a great place to live, work and visit and know that it will continue to thrive.”

“This is a great example of how devolved spending can deliver for the whole Doncaster borough,” said Labour Doncaster mayor Ros Jones, describing how the plan will deliver “much-needed investment” as well as boosting the Covid recovery.

The plan agreed by the combined authority this morning also includes the ‘South Yorkshire Young People’s Pledge’, which aims to support young people in the region to find work and improve their skills with discounted tram and bus fares.

Jarvis was elected by voters in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield as the first Sheffield City Region mayor in 2018. Bassetlaw, Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Dales and North East Derbyshire are ‘non-constituent’ members.

He secured 144,154 votes, after second preferences were counted, on a turnout of 260,260 or 25.82%. Jarvis has also been the Labour MP for Barnsley Central since a by-election in 2011. The next election will take place in 2022.

The mayor recently accused the government of “levelling South Yorkshire down” as it emerged that a fund designed to boost the UK’s most-deprived areas had been overwhelmingly skewed towards Conservative-held constituencies.

He joined the call from the Labour frontbench for ministers to publish the metric behind the ranking of the 93 seats identified under the new ‘levelling-up fund’, which saw 31 areas not in the top third most-deprived in the country included.

One constituency designated fist-tier priority was Richmondshire in North Yorkshire, Rishi Sunak’s seat, which is currently listed among the top five most prosperous places in England. The Chancellor’s team is working on the £4.8bn fund.

Jarvis highlighted that Sheffield and Barnsley in the Sheffield City Region were ranked in tier two under the new fund, despite both having significantly higher levels of deprivation than the Chancellor’s constituency.

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