Hilary Benn MP at Irwin Mitchell's UK Powerhouse debate.
Nick Hill

Devolution deal “crucial” in Yorkshire for Northern Powerhouse success, says Hilary Benn MP

For Yorkshire’s economy to reach its full potential, a devolution deal for the Leeds City Region must be reached, according to Shadow Foreign Secretary and MP for Leeds Central, Hilary Benn.

During an Irwin Mitchell UK Powerhouse debate, Mr Benn said that the devolution deadlock is holding Leeds back from addressing issues which affect economic expansion including transport, skills, housing and access to broadband.

The debate was hosted by David Parkin and held at Irwin Mitchell’s offices in Leeds at 2 Wellington Place. In addition to audience members having the opportunity to discuss the economic priorities for the city of Leeds, Hilary shared his thoughts on the forthcoming EU Referendum, leadership and governance, devolution, education and inward investment.

Hilary Benn MP said: “The so-called ‘Northern Powerhouse’ is really about the people of Leeds being able to make and take decisions that affect them.

“We remain a very centralised country in terms of decision-making and I am passionate about devolution and disappointed that despite the formation of the Leeds City Region, a deal has not been done yet in Yorkshire.

“Further devolution is absolutely crucial and without it here in Yorkshire, we will not be able to tackle the huge issues that exist in relation to transport infrastructure, skills and housing.”

Unlike in Greater Manchester, Sheffield City Region, the North East, Teesside, Liverpool and West Midlands, a devolution deal has not been signed off yet in Yorkshire.

West Yorkshire councils have been pressing for a Leeds City Region, however Conservative MPs in West Yorkshire along with North Yorkshire County Council and East Riding Council have been calling for a deal covering the whole of West, North and East Yorkshire.

Mr Benn added: “There are two competing visions but it needs to be sorted. I am supporting the City Region bid and the Government needs to get on and make a decision.”

Last year, Irwin Mitchell launched its UK Powerhouse report, an extensive business study produced in partnership with economic think tank, the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr).

Irwin Mitchell’s UK Powerhouse Tracker report, published at the start of April, revealed that economic growth within Yorkshire’s largest cities deteriorated in the final quarter of 2015, showing a £1.5bn dip in the expected growth of the region’s economy in 2016.

The report also stated that the economy in Leeds grew by 1.7% in the 12 months to Q4 in 2015 compared to 1.9% in Q3. The value of the goods and services produced however reached £20bn for the first time.

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