Friday 12 December 2014

Councillor Julie Dore, Leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “We welcome this next stage in the devolution of power to Sheffield, giving the city region more control over the vital areas of skills, housing, transport, and business support – a step towards allowing Sheffield to shape its own future and to fulfil its huge potential.

“We have been fighting for this for years on behalf of the people of Sheffield and this is an important step in our journey towards devolution of the local powers we need to enable Sheffield to fulfil its huge potential.

“Today’s deal will give Sheffield major control over the local skills and employment system – allowing us to ensure that young people and the unemployed are given the skills and training to get the jobs that our economy needs. This is a hugely significant step, as currently the skills system is largely determined in London, taking no account of the needs of Sheffield’s local economy. Although we welcome today’s announcement, it is one that the Government should have made years ago.

“We also welcome the announcements that the Government is making giving us more influence over transport projects, providing more locally appropriate forms of business support, giving us more control over buses (including working towards Oyster-style smart ticketing), and beginning discussions about giving us more say over initiatives to get people back to work, including the Work Programme

“However, this is only the start of the conversation with Government and we will continue to push Whitehall to go much further. £4.5 billion of public money is spent in Sheffield, but Sheffield only has a say over how a small proportion of this is used. England continues to be one of the most centralised states in the world. We refuse to accept the second class economic performance of our city that results from policies developed in London, and for London, being applied here in Sheffield and will continue to push Government to give us more say over our own future.

“We have a proven track record of delivering results where we have the freedom to make decisions that work for local people. As a result of the City Deal money we received in 2012 we are in the process of creating 4,000 new apprenticeships in the City Region. We can do this because we put businesses in the driving seat, and enabled them to develop the skills in the city that we need.

“Sheffield was recently given a vote of confidence by Jim O’Neill and the RSA Growth Commission, which made it clear that Sheffield and other Core Cities with a Combined Authority are at the front of the queue when it comes to being ready for increased local powers. I am pleased that Government has acted on that vote of confidence, but Sheffield must be allowed to go further to ensure the city succeeds, and I am therefore calling on them to continue the process of devolution we have started today.”