New fund provides an opportunity to address regional issues and empower the metro regions.
Seven of England’s directly-elected Metro Mayors met in Bristol last week to lobby the government for greater devolution.
The meeting follows the call earlier this month, for the proposed Shared Prosperity Fund – a Conservative manifesto pledge that guarantees a continuation of current EU funding - to be devolved directly to the regional mayors to further empower devolution and allow priorities to be determined at a regional level rather than through central government.
Businesses need to be brought into this conversation. We know our members need greater certainty on Brexit to enable long-term planning and forecasting but business needs vary regionally. We also believe stable, long-term funding for transport infrastructure across the regions is important to deliver improved connectivity to ensure the UK can continue to compete post-Brexit and businesses continue to have access to skills.
The £2.4bn fund to be created will replace existing EU funding streams including the EU Growth Fund and the EU Structural Fund. Specifics are scant, with a consultation on the details of the fund set to begin before the end of the year and the package itself outlined in the comprehensive spending review due in spring. Above all, the metro regions will be keen to maintain momentum to ensure there is no lag between the end of EU funding and the launch of its successor.
"As they put aside geographical differences and work together to address our common interests, this collaboration of metro mayors holds a lot of promise for businesses, large and small, across our regions."
Last week’s meeting, attended by Tim Bowles of West of England; Andy Burnham of Greater Manchester; Ben Houchen of Tees Valley; Steve Rotheram of Liverpool City Region; Andy Street of West Midlands; James Palmer of Peterborough and Cambridgeshire and Dan Jarvis of Sheffield City Region, is a positive step towards further regional devolution and was also supported by Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan who was unable to attend this initial meeting.
Through effective collaboration and cross-regional support, the three chambers continue to make the case for business and ensure that our members' voices are heard. With the metro mayors coming together to speak with one voice the impact will be greater, and it offers the potential for the needs of businesses across the metro regions to be even better served. As they put aside geographical differences and work together to address our common interests, this collaboration of metro mayors holds a lot of promise for businesses, large and small, across our regions.
As chambers of commerce representing London, Greater Manchester and Bristol we are continuing to gather evidence for a campaign – Terms of Trade: the reality of Brexit for business – exploring the everyday impacts of the most widely discussed Brexit scenarios on business through our members’ own insights. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your views.