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Report says there’s a lack of democratic accountability, transparency and economic growth in Yorkshire – we have the solution!

December 6, 2013

The Yorkshire Post reports today on a study by the National Audit Office (NAO) which  reveals spending on ‘local growth’ projects has almost halved since 2010. The report goes on to criticise the abolition of the RDAs (including Yorkshire Forward) indicating that there are no longer the structures in place to deliver economic growth at the ‘pace required’. In addition, the report says, ‘locally, it is not clear that the government has achieved its objective to “increase democratic accountability and transparency, and ensure that public expenditure is more responsive to the needs of local business and people”‘.

So, a lack of democratic accountability, transparency and economic growth. Well, we at YDM know what the solution is!

From the Yorkshire Post:

Coalition axe ‘hit growth and jobs in Yorkshire’

A study by the National Audit Office (NAO) reveals spending on “local growth” projects has almost halved since 2010, and concludes the Chancellor’s raft of schemes for boosting the economy in the regions have ultimately proved “slow” to create new jobs.

Flagship initiatives including enterprise zones, City Deals, the £2.4bn regional growth fund, the £650m “growing places” fund and the newly-created local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) are all criticised by the NAO for failing to deliver in areas such as Yorkshire at the pace required.

Most damagingly for the Government, the auditors state explicitly that the coalition’s contentious decision to abolish regional development agencies (RDAs) such as Yorkshire Forward in 2010 caused a “significant dip in local growth funds and jobs created” across the regions of England, at the very time they were struggling to recover from the worst recession in living memory.

Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey, a former Labour Treasury Minister, said: “The coalition was warned about the risks of axing the RDAs, but seemed intent on a scorched earth approach to anything in the regions.

“They had no serious plan for economic growth in the regions. Areas like Yorkshire have been hit even harder as a result.”

Mr Osborne yesterday gave his annual Autumn Statement, delivering a triumphant assessment of the state of the British economy.

Growth forecasts were revised up significantly, with the budget on course to be in surplus by 2018 – albeit three years later than the Chancellor originally planned.

He told MPs: “Britain’s economic plan is working,” he said. “Britain is currently growing faster than any other major advanced economy.”

The Chancellor also announced a further freeze on fuel duty – cancelling a planned 2p-a-litre rise – while capping rail fare increases to the rate of inflation next year.

In a further significant move, he warned councils which try to block housing developments could face losing out on money to fund local services.

It raises the spectre of authorities in rural areas of Yorkshire missing out if they attempt to stand up to housing developers as part of a range of measures aimed at stimulating the building of new homes.

Treasury Minister David Gauke told the Yorkshire Post: “The challenge for local authorities is to identify where there can be more housebuilding, to be prepared to make those decisions rather than just saying ‘no’ to everything.

“So this isn’t about running roughshod over local opinion, but it does require local authorities and local people to engage in the process – because we do need more house-building.”

The Autumn Statement included £1bn of investment in a Government scheme to unlock housing developments that ground to a halt in the credit crunch.

The East Leeds Extension, which could eventually see around 7,000 homes and a new link road built, is among the schemes expected to gain financial support under the six-year programme.

Documents published alongside the Autumn Statement also revealed the Government is considering how individual households could benefit financially from major infrastructure projects.

The idea raises the prospect of families being rewarded for agreeing to new roads, railway lines or even power stations being built near their homes.

But Labour warned the recovery is not being felt by millions of people, pointing to figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility which suggested wages will have fallen by 5.8 per cent in real terms over the course of the Parliament.

“The Chancellor is in complete denial,” said Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor and Morley and Outwood MP. “On average, working people in our country are £1,600 a year worse off than when he and the Prime Minister took office.”

Unemployment and output remain significantly worse in the North.

Today’s NAO report makes clear the various initiatives introduced by the Government to replace the abolished RDAs have been much too slow to take effect. “This is reflected in a significant dip in funding and outputs,” the report said.

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