West of England proposes ambitious devolution deal worth £2bn to economy

Mayor George Ferguson

Mayor George Ferguson

The leaders of the West of England are calling on the Government to back a devolution bid that could generate an extra £2bn per annum for the economy whilst improving local lives.

The region is already the country’s most economically productive area and offers a high quality of life to its citizens.

Now, in a submission to Her Majesty’s Treasury on 4 September, the West of England proposes a £1bn investment which could triple the level of spending on major projects such as transport, flood defence and housing over the next 10 years.

The package, which also proposes greater local control over post-16 training and skills, is focused on increasing economic productivity to grow the region’s economy by at least 5% more than it would without the deal.

In doing so it will create a fairer region where people have better access to employment, more homes available and better transport options.

The submission proposes a ‘Payment by Results’ approach to the £1bn for infrastructure.

This means the region is seeking the freedom to borrow money to invest up-front, with the Government committing to repaying it once the economic success of the investment has been demonstrated.

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol said: “I am delighted with the progress we have made over the last few months which has enabled us to come up with a unique devolution offer tailored to suit the special qualities of the city region and the particular challenges we face.

“I strongly believe in investing in success and we’ve an excellent record in this region with so much to offer the UK economy.

“By putting more investment and power in local hands we’ll be able to drastically improve the speed and efficiency with which we improve our transport system, reduce congestion, create affordable new homes and help some of society’s most disadvantaged people into training and work.

“The West of England is already the UK’s most economically productive region, but this deal will help to secure and improve our position rather than risk falling behind some of our Northern counterparts.

“We’re calling on the Government to recognise the obvious advantages of backing a winner by giving us the freedom we need to be even more successful and make a real difference to local lives and UK PLC.”

Cllr Nigel Ashton, Leader of North Somerset Council said: “The devolution deal builds on the strong partnership working we have in the West of England and in making this submission to government we are signalling our ambition for growth.

“Alongside this we are also seeking to secure powers so that we can make sure that growth takes place in appropriate places and is supported by improvements to our transport network and provision of essential infrastructure.”

Following its submission the West of England will work closely with the Government on the detail of the proposals. The Government is expected to make its decision in time for the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on 25 November.