Sheffield City Region mayor calls for more powers and economic stimulus package

A call has been made to the government for a massive economic stimulus package to help regions like South Yorkshire bounce back and thrive beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 10:23 am
Updated Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 1:37 pm

Dan Jarvis, Sheffield City Region mayor, has called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak for a so-called ‘New Deal for the North’ and to set out concrete plans to ‘level up’ the economy.

The call comes before a speech by Prime Minister Boris Johnson early in July, which is expected to set out the government’s approach to Covid-19 recovery, and an emergency fiscal stimulus to support the economy.

To achieve the levelling-up agenda, the mayor has called for the upgrading of transport, high-speed rail and gigabit broadband, and progressing the ‘MIT for the North’ based on South Yorkshire’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre to support high-productivity and high-paid jobs and firms.

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Dan Jarvis. Picture Scott Merrylees

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The mayor also called for the planting of a new ‘Northern Forest’ and implementing natural flood prevention to save billions in potential damages.

Mr Jarvis said the government could devolve power to regions almost immediately by giving control of the Covid-19 recovery fund to metro mayors and by giving them a seat at the ‘national table’.

He also called for proposals to be fast tracked in moving Treasury staff from Westminster to northern regions showing a ‘real shift in powers and resources’.

Ministers have also been urged to ‘rewrite the Green Book’ central government uses to assess projects, ‘ending the structural bias’ towards wealthy areas.

Mr Jarvis, said: “The North has suffered badly from Covid-19 but even before the pandemic, our potential was being squandered. This neglect has been an act of national self-harm that has hurt the whole country. It is past time to stop this waste.

“Covid-19 of course is the immediate concern. We urgently need a massive stimulus to create jobs and help people and businesses. But even these short-term actions must support much bigger goals. It is not enough to return to a deeply flawed status quo, we need to build back better.

“To put it simply: we need a New Deal to make the North stronger, greener, and fairer. But this is not just about money. A plan for the North must also empower. It must be done with us, not to us.

“These are difficult times, but they only strengthen the case for a New Deal for the North. Now is not the time to retreat: now is the time to act. If the government has the vision to seize this moment, we can make this the start not just of a recovery, but of a renaissance.”

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