MPs concerned at Yorkshire Forward budget cuts

16 March 2010

MPs on the Yorkshire and the Humber Select Committee are concerned about the impact of budget cuts and a reduction in funding on the work of Yorkshire Forward in the region

In the report on the work of the Regional Development Agency published today, the MPs praise its work promoting economic development and regeneration in the region.

The report points out that Yorkshire Forward has incurred a 23.9 per cent reduction in total financial resources for 2010–11 and recommends that the Development Agency should not have its budget decreased further. The Committee welcomes the conclusions of the National Audit Office and Pricewaterhouse Coopers reports which positively endorse the work of Yorkshire Forward and its benefits to the regional economy.

Chairman of the Yorkshire and the Humber Committee, Eric Illsley MP said:

"Yorkshire Forward does important work in the region supporting business and promoting economic development. The National Audit Office and Pricewaterhouse Coopers recognise this.

"As a Committee we believe the Agency’s budget should not be cut any further so that it can continue doing its vital work to help the region’s economy.

"Now that the Agency is taking on new responsibilities in respect of transport, housing and planning, it must take care that these do not detract from its primary focus to boost economic development in the region."

The report commends the Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber, Yorkshire Forward and regional stakeholders on their proactive and collaborative response to the economic downturn. The creation of the Economic Delivery Group was a useful tool in the region’s response and was helpful in avoiding duplication of effort between stakeholders.

It also praises Yorkshire Forward for revising its Corporate Plan to prioritise battling the economic downturn. However it is important that short-term actions do not impede the long-term prospects of the region.

The Committee recommends that Yorkshire Forward continually reassesses its spending priorities, given the current economic climate, and make changes accordingly in consultation with the Government Office and other regional partners. The Government, for its part, must ensure that Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) have sufficient resources to carry out their remit.

The Committee is particularly concerned that counter-recessionary spending should be funded by Government and should not be at the expense of existing projects, otherwise this may damage the prospects of the region’s recovery from recession.

The Committee is not convinced that the case has currently been made for the further devolution of funding from RDAs to local authorities. It supports the call for Yorkshire Forward and local authorities to work together more collaboratively and flexibly.

However, the Committee thinks it appropriate that there should be an assessment of the Leeds City Region pilot to establish the effectiveness of devolving further funding and powers to sub-regional level, but this should not be to the detriment of smaller local authorities in the region.

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