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Chancellor splashes the cash and promises to get it done

The new chancellor has announced a series of new measures as part of his first Budget, including a devolution deal for West Yorkshire and cash for councils to ease the impact of coronavirus.

Speaking today (12 March) in Parliament, Rishi Sunak confirmed the government has agreed a devolution deal with West Yorkshire to establish a combined authority with a directly-elected Mayor from May 2021.

According to the government, this deal will provide £1.1 billion of investment for the area over 30 years, as well as devolving significant new decision-making powers on transport, planning and skills.

As part of this, the government is also providing up to £500,000 to support Bradford in its regeneration and development plans to increase the benefits of potential Northern Powerhouse Rail connections.

The chancellor said the government will also provide a further £9.5bn for the Affordable Homes Programme, which in total will allocate £12.2bn of grant funding from 2021-22 to support the creation of affordable homes across England.

In addition, there will be a further £400m for combined authorities and local areas to establish housing on brownfield land across the country.

The Budget also confirms allocations from the Housing Infrastructure Fund totalling £1.1 billion for nine different areas including Manchester, South Sunderland and South Lancaster.

Mr Sunak also said the government will provide local authorities in England with
£500m to support ‘economically vulnerable people and households in their local area’ as part of efforts to tackle the impact of the coronavirus.

Commenting on the Budget, the chief executive of Localis, Jonathan Werran said: ‘Today’s announcement succeeds in putting unprecedentedly increased levels of capital funding flesh to fully dress the rhetorical bones of the ‘levelling-up’ agenda.

‘In this sense the chancellor has unveiled a “Bob the Builder” Budget – if the country needs it we will build it and get it done.

‘From digital connectivity to mobility and transport upgrades, from housing growth and infrastructure development to pothole fixing to floods defences, the money is clearly there to match the ambition articulated in last December’s election to rebalance the national economy and extend opportunity across all four corners of the land.

‘What is at stake here is the devolution of powers that will necessarily follow the funding, how it is distributed and at what scale.  Will the new inclination of regional political economies encourage genuine local empowerment and self-determination to help shape communities and local economies in a way that accords with their sense of place and identity?

‘For this we must await the final contents of the English Devolution White Paper and 2020’s other showstopping fiscal events – the July Spending Review and Autumn Budget.’

Photo Credit – Derwiki (Pixabay)

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