Dan Jarvis

Yorkshire Post - - NEWS - Dan Jarvis Dan Jarvis is Mayor of Sh­effield City Re­gion. He is also the Labour MP for Barns­ley Cen­tral.

‘When it comes to trans­port in­vest­ment, the gap be­tween our re­gion and Lon­don is par­tic­u­larly stark.’

THIS WEEK marks a cru­cial mo­ment in British pol­i­tics.

MPs are pre­par­ing to vote on Theresa May’s ne­go­ti­ated EU With­drawal Agree­ment and what­ever Par­lia­ment de­cides, com­mu­ni­ties and busi­nesses across York­shire will face chal­lenges.

But it is also clear that we will be pre­sented with op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Our re­gion’s lead­ers face the ur­gent task of en­sur­ing our com­mu­ni­ties are equipped to face those chal­lenges with con­fi­dence. To do this, we must be given the re­sources to build strong and re­silient com­mu­ni­ties – and this re­quires the Gov­ern­ment to work with us.

That is why I met with the Chan­cel­lor of the Ex­che­quer, Philip Ham­mond, last week to dis­cuss how we en­sure a greater share of na­tional in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing is in­vested across our re­gion.

Be­cause for too long, West­min­ster and White­hall has con­sis­tently failed to ad­dress the fact that we trail well be­hind many other parts of the coun­try when it comes to pub­lic spend­ing.

Low-paid jobs, health and ed­u­ca­tional in­equal­i­ties and stretched pub­lic ser­vices all point to sys­temic un­der­in­vest­ment in our com­mu­ni­ties.

I share the frus­tra­tion of many res­i­dents across York­shire not only over this lack of in­vest­ment, but that we’ve al­most learnt to ac­cept it be­cause it has been go­ing on for so long.

We mustn’t ac­cept it. We must fight it and we must se­cure greater in­vest­ment.

When it comes to trans­port in­vest­ment, the gap be­tween our re­gion and Lon­don is par­tic­u­larly stark.

The con­se­quences are clear for York­shire’s com­muters as they board in­fre­quent, late and over­crowded trains.

The Gov­ern­ment’s own fig­ures show that for ev­ery pound spent on trans­port projects in York­shire and the Hum­ber in 2017/2018, £3.20 was spent on Lon­don’s trans­port net­work

– a trend that is pro­jected to con­tinue on the ba­sis of planned fu­ture spend to 2021.

Ad­di­tion­ally, an IPPR North re­port on trans­port spend­ing, re­leased last year, showed that since the North­ern Pow­er­house agenda was in­tro­duced by Gov­ern­ment in 2014, na­tional spend­ing on trans­port per per­son has gone up in Lon­don twice as much as it has in the North.

The fig­ures are un­der­pinned by a sys­temic un­fair­ness in the way that fund­ing is al­lo­cated.

The cur­rent Gov­ern­ment cri­te­ria tends to al­lo­cate fund­ing to stronger eco­nomic ar­eas that are likely to pro­duce greater eco­nomic yield per pound in­vested.

This gives ar­eas with stronger, more re­silient economies – such as in Lon­don and the South East – the edge over ar­eas such as ours, where prob­lems such as weaker in­fra­struc­ture and poorer con­nec­tiv­ity per­sist.

But with­out the re­sources we need to make the sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments to our in­fra­struc­ture, we are des­tined to be trapped in a self-ful­fill­ing prophecy, in which res­i­dents across York­shire per­pet­u­ally en­dure poor ser­vices.

This is why, as we look be­yond Brexit, the Gov­ern­ment must pro­vide us with as­sur­ances that our com­mu­ni­ties will be given the cru­cial in­vest­ment we need to face the fu­ture with cer­tainty.

So far, they have failed. Min­is­ters promised to es­tab­lish the UK Shared Pros­per­ity Fund (UKSPF) to re­place the loss the money that came from the EU; amount­ing to £2.4bn of fund­ing to pro­mote in­clu­sive growth across Bri­tain’s re­gions.

De­spite promis­ing to con­sult widely on the UKSPF in 2018, Min­is­ters have so far failed to set out even the most ba­sic de­tail on how the scheme will op­er­ate.

As Mayor of the Sh­effield City Re­gion, it is my job to do all I can to en­sure that our com­mu­ni­ties

We must be given the re­sources to build strong and re­silient com­mu­ni­ties.

and busi­nesses do not be­come poorer be­cause of Brexit.

I be­lieve that we achieve much more by work­ing to­gether than we do by work­ing alone – and as a re­gion we must do just that.

But it is the Gov­ern­ment’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to give us the pow­ers and re­sources to be able to build lo­cal ca­pac­ity that can gen­er­ate eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity and stim­u­late growth.

Pre­par­ing our re­gion for Brexit should be cen­tral to ev­ery de­ci­sion that lo­cal and re­gional lead­ers take – from cre­at­ing good jobs to at­tract­ing in­vest­ment, grow­ing an in­clu­sive econ­omy and build­ing in­fra­struc­ture that is fit to sup­port our com­mu­ni­ties and our busi­nesses.

But we can only do this with the fund­ing and the flex­i­bil­ity.

Make no mis­take – what­ever hap­pens this week, I will be work­ing to en­sure that we are ready to face the fu­ture with con­fi­dence. That re­quires a firm com­mit­ment from Gov­ern­ment to give us the tools we need to do the job.

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