Sheffield could win powers and jobs from Brexit

Sheffield could win jobs and powers as the UK leaves the European Union, the new Northern Powerhouse minister said.

Thursday, 4th August 2016, 3:42 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th August 2016, 4:44 pm
Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy with BA Clic UK sales manager Nicole Irvine at its base in Rotherham

Andrew Percy MP, said functions could be devolved directly to the region as the country heads for Brexit.

Sheffield City Region has already negotiated a raft of powers and a £1.3bn budget in return for an elected mayor from May 2017.

Speaking to The Star, Mr Percy, Brigg and Goole MP, said its advanced status - second only to Manchester - made it a frontrunner in the race to benefit from the return of powers.

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He added: “Devolution is an ongoing process as we leave the EU. The government will get a lot of new powers but some will be devolved.

“I think the fact that Sheffield City Region has a deal in place puts it ahead of the curve. I pay tribute to the region’s leaders for signing it.”

The region was also in a good position for further domestic devolution - of health and social care - and conversations were “ongoing,” he added.

In February, Lord Jim O’Neill, commercial secretary to the Treasury, said some central government departments could cease to exist if devolution was done properly.

In a speech on the Northern Powerhouse at Sheffield University he said there were no limits to the project, but it depended on the “persuasiveness” of local leaders and their willingness to accept accountability for managing cities’ debt.

He added: “If we do devolution properly some central government departments will cease to exist - I’m not saying which ones.

“It’s a pretty exciting path that we’ve just opened the door to, which could go a lot longer and deeper than we realise.”

Andrew Percy was made Northern Powerhouse minister, replacing Stockton South MP James Wharton, when Prime Minister Theresa May formed a new-look government following the Referendum on June 29.

Mr Percy said infrastructure was “critical” to the North of England. A £1m Department for Transport feasibility study on a TransPennine tunnel, due in October, will shortlist three routes.

And he acknowledged the Northern Powerhouse was known globally.

He added: “One of the best things about it is the traction overseas, especially in China. George Osborne gets a lot of credit for that.”

Foreign investment had doubled in the North in the last two years partly because of it, he added.

On Monday, Mr Percy announced Government investment in a Rotherham company which will create 40 jobs.

On a visit to the site of the new BA Clic Components kitchen and bedroom door factory, he pledged £440,000 on behalf of Sheffield Local Enterprise Partnership, as part of a total investment of more than £3m.