New powers and millions of pounds in new funding are coming to South Yorkshire this summer, as the region’s landmark devolution deal is agreed.

The order for the Deal will be laid in Parliament on Monday (29th June), after letters of agreement were submitted by Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis, and council leaders in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The Deal is set to be approved in Parliament in the coming weeks with a statutory instrument being used to pass this into law. Following this, millions of pounds of funding will come to South Yorkshire.

The Deal marks a significant breakthrough for the region, equipping local leaders with the tools and resources to build back better from the coronavirus pandemic.

Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said: “This is a landmark moment for our region. We are seeing powers transferred from Westminster – it means more decisions about South Yorkshire will be made in South Yorkshire.

“The journey to reach this point has been long and difficult. I firmly believe it is worthwhile, as it provides leaders in South Yorkshire the opportunity to transform our region. I am confident we will seize this moment to build back better, creating a stronger, fairer, greener economy and society.

“The Deal comes at a crucial time, as we look to overcome the coronavirus pandemic. I am working alongside the leaders of our local authorities, and in partnership with our businesses, universities, colleges and central government, to secure new investment and put us on the road to a stronger, fairer future for South Yorkshire. Devolution does not stop at city region level. This is the start of our devolution journey, and working together across the wider region is going to be even more important than ever before.

“Collectively, we stand ready to unlock economic renewal for the region, the north and the nation, and devolution of powers from Westminster will help enable us to do this. We have new tools in our hands today. Together, we must put them to good use.”

A public consultation that was carried out in the spring, found that people in South Yorkshire overwhelmingly supported devolution. Almost 90% (590 of the 675 respondents) said they supported the principle of devolution of further powers from Westminster. There was strong support for providing local decisions makers with the tools needed to meet local needs and solve local problems, giving greater local autonomy, power and control.

The devolution deal will bring benefits including control of a new, flexible single pot of funding for economic growth, which incorporates an additional £30 million annual allocation over the next 30 years.

It also secures devolved transport powers and funding; full devolution of the Adult Education Budget of around £35m a year, for colleges and training providers; increased planning capacity and powers to deliver housing and economic growth; and greater control over how and where funds are directed.

Much has been achieved at a city region level without the powers and resources of the full devolution deal – but further progress can now be made, at pace.

Since Mayor Jarvis was elected in May 2018, the Mayoral Combined Authority (MCA) has awarded more than £100m in Local Growth Fund (LGF) funding for transformative schemes across the region. These projects include the Grey to Green scheme in Sheffield city centre, the Glass Works in Barnsley, the transformation of Doncaster’s Wool Market and the creation of the new Gulliver’s Valley resort in Rotherham.

The MCA has also:

  • Secured £170 million in Transforming Cities funding for public transport and Active Travel projects; published an ambitious Transport Strategy and Integrated Rail Plan for the region.
  • Commissioned an independent Bus Review across South Yorkshire which put the views of passengers at its heart;
  • Appointed multiple world-record Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey as the region’s first Active Travel Commissioner, who’s vision for improving walking and cycling infrastructure across the region has been adopted by the MCA.
  • Developed an ambitious programme of work for the city region to have net zero carbon emissions by 2040; and
  • Championed the Working Win health-led employment trial, which has helped more than 6,000 people access employment support.
  • Convened the South Yorkshire Covid-19 Response Group bringing together anchor institutions from across the region together to develop the region’s economic recovery plan.
  • Working with the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System to encourage businesses across South Yorkshire to help with the production of PPE and hand sanitiser for the NHS

Statements of support from partners

Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Simon Clarke MP said: “I am delighted that we are today introducing an order to Parliament that, subject to its approval, will get the Sheffield City Region devolution deal over the line and unlock real benefits for people across South Yorkshire.

“This Government is committed to handing power to the local leaders across Yorkshire, and this is a significant first step in our ambition to deliver devolution across the region as we work to level up prosperity and opportunity everywhere.

“I want to thank the Mayor and local leaders for their efforts to ensure that this deal could move forward and secure £30m a year along with new powers that will make a real difference to people’s lives in the Sheffield City Region.”

Dame Sarah Storey, Active Travel Commissioner for the Sheffield City Region, said: “I am delighted to see the news that the South Yorkshire devolution deal has been agreed. This deal is the important key to us delivering our transformative Active Travel Implementation Plan. I’m looking forward to working with the Mayor and local leaders to deliver an active travel network as a priority within the region’s plan for a sustainable transport system.”

James Muir, Chair of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This is the culmination of a huge effort on the part of the Mayor to secure a consensus amongst the South Yorkshire public leaders. Not only does this devolution deal unlock much needed additional funds to be invested in the Region, it opens the door for further devolvement of decision-making authority and, hopefully, more funding to invest in transforming the Region’s economy, creating higher skilled and better paid jobs and improving the well-being of our whole community.”

Barry White, Chief Executive at Transport for the North, said: “Devolution of powers and budgets to Northern mayors is a vital step in ensuring our region gets the investment it needs, so we welcome the signing of the Sheffield City Region devolution deal.

“Committed funding and a direct say in how, when and where that money is spent allows our regional leaders to take a strategic, sustainable approach to investment and means that our people and businesses stand to reap much greater benefits.

“As a Member of Transport for the North we look forward to continuing our work with Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis to create a multi-modal transport network that will support economic recovery and growth.”

Roger Marsh, Chair of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and the NP11 said: “The Devolution Deal for the Sheffield City Region is a significant milestone and a welcome opportunity to put the region on the front foot for the recovery from COVID-19. The timing is well aligned with West Yorkshire’s own devolution journey, enabling our region to realise its full potential with more localised decision-making and powers that will improve the lives and prospects for all communities. Following in the steps of other devolved regions across the UK is not only a positive step for Sheffield and Yorkshire but also for the North as a whole. It is critical that this journey now continues for all parts of the North, so that we see the true benefits of a self-sufficient, thriving, and connected Northern Powerhouse.”

Angela Foulkes, Chair of Sheffield City Region’s Further Education Principals Group, and Chief Executive and Principal of The Sheffield College, said: “This is great news for the region’s further education colleges, which play a pivotal role in their local communities and are anchor institutions in the cities and towns that they serve transforming lives through learning.

“Devolution will mean greater autonomy over the Adult Education Budget for the region with FE colleges receiving funding for training adults aged 19-plus in the specific skills that our region’s employers urgently need, enabling learners to go further in their careers,  and supporting job creation and regional economic growth.”

The FE Principals Group comprises leaders from Barnsley College, DN Colleges Group, Doncaster Deaf Trust, Longley Park Sixth Form, Northern College, the RNN Group, the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure, The Sheffield College and the AMRC Training Centre.

Matt Jackson, President of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce said: “This is an important moment. We know our political leaders have worked hard to agree this devolution deal with government. The final agreement comes just as we grapple with the immediate and lasting impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. We have the opportunity to build stronger and fairer economy that works for businesses across our region. Let’s get to work.”

Diane Jarvis, Sheffield BID Manager, said: “The devolution deal is crucial to drive jobs and growth in South Yorkshire through investment in transport, improving skills and supporting business. Its importance is even greater as the region prepares to rebuild the economy in the wake of Coronavirus. A new landscape is emerging across our towns and cities which needs strong leadership locally to put transformative plans in place for the benefit of all communities and businesses here in Sheffield and across South Yorkshire.”

Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, said: “This devolution deal could not be more timely. As regional disparities are laid bare by the profound economic and social impact of the pandemic, devolution will provide a much-needed boost to our collective efforts to ensure a robust and revitalised recovery for the Sheffield City Region.”

Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “We are at a pivotal moment for our nation as we seek to minimise the most acute economic and social effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. We know that regions like South Yorkshire are particularly vulnerable to economic crises and that we need strong, experienced leadership to help steer and coordinate our path to recovery. This announcement of long-awaited devolution for South Yorkshire is therefore extremely welcome and I would like to pay tribute to Mayor Dan Jarvis and other leaders for delivering this agreement.

“Our region has tremendous potential, with outstanding talent, assets and vision. We look forward to working with our Mayor and other leaders to support our region’s economic and skills development in the months and years to come.”

Claire Reading, Development Manager, South Yorkshire, East Yorkshire and The Humber, Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Our members have always supported the idea of Devolution. We are delighted that the work in Sheffield City Region has progressed to provide a positive outcome for the area. We look forward to working with Sheffield City Region to maximise the opportunities for small business owners and the self-employed.”

Andrew Denniff, Chief Executive of Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, said: “To say we are pleased is an understatement. Businesses across South Yorkshire can now look forward to real investment and collaboration across the region with all our communities hopefully benefitting from this opportunity. Our Chamber looks forward to working closely with the Mayor and his team to ensure those promises are delivered”.

Dan Fell, CEO of Doncaster Chamber, said: “Securing the devolution deal is a seismic leap forwards for South Yorkshire.  The deal acts as a statement of intent to local employers, potential investors and central government alike that our region is ambitious and business friendly.”