Â£575m devolution money in jeopardy - on top of Â£908m cuts
A failed devolution deal could cost South Yorkshire Â£575m over the next decade - on top of Â£908m of public sector cuts - new figures show.
Several funding streams will be axed if an agreement is not reached. It would follow years of deep central government cuts that will leave South Yorkshire councils £908m poorer.
In the decade to 2021, Sheffield will have lost £435m, Doncaster £158m, Rotherham £200m and Barnsley £115m.
The money available to South Yorkshire - and the cuts it is suffering - show the government’s determination to back ‘metro mayors’ presiding over city regions.
Funding at risk over the next 10 years includes £30m-a-year under the 2015 devolution deal, up to £30m-a-year for the Adult Education Budget and £10m for the Early Intervention Pilot.
They will only be paid out if Barnsley and Doncaster consent to full mayoral devolution.
But the losses potentially go further. It is believed that for every £1 of devolution deal money up to £2 of other grant funding becomes available. And, as in other mayoral areas, the cash can act as ‘seed’ money, attracting private sector investment.
Sheffield Chamber president John Hayward believes the £30m could actually be worth £150 to £200m-a-year.
At present all the money is on ice while Sir Steve Houghton of Barnsley and Ros Jones of Doncaster pursue a ‘One Yorkshire’ ambition.
Meanwhile, a South Yorkshire mayor without powers or funding will be elected in May after all four leaders signed up and the deal was enacted in Parliament. The government has consistently refused to undo it.
Paul Jagger, chair of the City Region Chambers Group, said it would be a tragedy to miss out.
He added: “We are very concerned that a South Yorkshire deal could not be achieved despite the early commitment to one by all the local authority leaders.
“The figures show there is much to be lost if this deal does not go through, and the Chamber is willing to work with all parties to try and make the city region work.
“It is understandable that many will wish to achieve a wider regional deal, indeed I was the founder chair of the Campaign for a Democratic Yorkshire and the case is as relevant today as it ever was. The offer on the table, however, is substantial and vital to this city region. It would be a tragedy to let this pass without trying everything to make it happen whilst allowing the campaign for a wider deal to continue.”
John Hayward, Sheffield Chamber president, said: “The politicians tell us that we have not had our fair share of the cake over the years. South Yorkshire could do so much with this money, creating jobs, improving lives. A wider Yorkshire deal might be an excellent thing but it isn’t on the table. I ask our politicians to take the deal on offer and then work for the bigger deal.”