Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, Dan Jarvis, has called on the Government to extend a crucial funding pot to kickstart the region’s revival from the COVID pandemic.
Since 2012, South Yorkshire has received £363.7 million from the Local Growth Fund (LGF), which the Mayor and the Local Enterprise Partnership have leveraged to create jobs, attract further investment and transform the region’s town and city centres.
LGF has helped unlock £500m private sector investment in South Yorkshire’s economy, including the investment of world-leading firms Boeing and McLaren Automotive. It has helped create 15,000 jobs, 2,000 apprenticeships and supported 8,000 people to improve their skills.
However, the fund expires at the end of March 2021, with Government yet to set out plans for a successor. The downgrading of the Spending Review to a one-year settlement has left the region facing a cliff edge, at precisely the time it needs certainty.
The Mayor raised the matter in Parliament, pressing the Government for clarity on its plans to extend the LGF in the longer-term, to give Metro Mayors the tools they need to rebuild regional economies in the wake of the pandemic.
He is calling on the Government to extend the LGF to attract a new wave of investment from world-leading firms and deliver the region’s Renewal Action Plan, which includes a pipeline of shovel ready schemes will continue the regeneration of the region.
Mayor Dan Jarvis said: “The Local Growth Fund, under the stewardship of South Yorkshire’s leaders, has helped change the face of our region. We’ve cemented our reputation as the heartland of British industry and innovation and made our towns and city better places to live, work and invest.
“South Yorkshire is open for business, and ready to prosper despite the challenges COVID throws at us. We’re investing money from our landmark devolution deal to start our fightback form the pandemic, yet the uncertainty of the future of the LGF hangs over us and threatens to derail our progress.
“Extending the fund will unleash growth across the Northern Powerhouse. We have businesses ready to invest and plans ready to go to deliver prosperity for our people and places. We can deliver recovery and renewal and stand ready to be levelled up.”
Extending the Local Growth Fund will help the MCA unlock an ambitious programme of economic and infrastructure investment, including:
- Connecting two of the region’s largest innovation hubs, the Advanced Manufacturing District in Rotherham and the Olympic Legacy Park in Sheffield, to supercharge the progress of ground-breaking research and development in South Yorkshire.
- Delivering essential flood defence schemes in Doncaster to protect the town from the devastation seen during the 2019 floods.
- Improving connectivity across South Yorkshire, including full fibre broadband coverage and improved 4/5G, to build on the region’s strengths in the digital sector.
- Redeveloping Sheffield’s Midland station to improve tram and road links.
- Building family-friendly homes in Sheffield city centre, Kelham Island and the Devonshire Quarter.
- Regenerating Goldthorpe, Barnsley by building a new train station, 1000 homes and an employment site.
- Transforming the waterfront area of Doncaster to provide space for new office, retail, leisure and residential opportunities.
Ahead of the Spending Review, the Mayor is calling on Government to:
- Give greater flexibility on the use of devolution gainshare money and existing funds such as the Transforming Cities fund, to enable the MCA to progress its programme of investment. The Mayor also called for agreement on a borrowing limit for the MCA, following the passage of our devolution Deal into law.
- Fund the Renewal Action Plan, so the Mayor, local authorities and businesses can deliver a jobs-led recovery through the South Yorkshire Works jobs, apprenticeships and training programme, to help people find work or retrain, and give businesses the skills they need to grow and thrive.
- Invest in public transport and infrastructure. Accelerating the delivery of priority flood defence schemes to protect over 10,300 homes and 2,800 businesses; providing bus and tram with sustained funding to keep operating during COVID, and strengthening connectivity across South Yorkshire through Supertram renewal, extending tram train, enabling active travel and improving road and rail networks.