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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-25-11

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

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Metro Mayor sets out City Region asks ahead of Budget

LIVERPOOL City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has set out his key asks from the Chancellor ahead of this week's budget, focussing on the issues that will test the Government's genuine commitment to devolution and economic re-balancing. The City Region's asks to Treasury were submitted back in September, but Steve Rotheram is now anxious to see whether the Government's devolution rhetoric will be matched by actions.  Amongst the Metro Mayor's key priorities are major infrastructure projects including:- rail investment, digital connectivity and tidal energy, housing and homelessness and skills.

The City Region's asks to Treasury for additional infrastructure investment include:- a clear commitment to Northern Powerhouse Rail, support for transport improvements within the City Region, enhanced digital connectivity, backing for the region's burgeoning science assets and feasibility spending towards the proposed Mersey Tidal Energy project.

Steve Rotheram said:- "We are still facing a situation where for every ₤1 spent on infrastructure in the North, ₤6 is spent in London and the South East. This is not just about fairness, it's about recognising that rail connectivity, a modern and efficient transport system, state of the art digital connectivity and exploiting our renewable energy and science assets are absolutely fundamental to our economic future. Government needs to start thinking about our regions in a more entrepreneurial way. If you want to improve productivity, and re-balance our economy, then you have to invest in the things that are going to drive and accelerate growth."

The City Region has asked for additional devolved powers and resources for housing where it believes it could make a massive difference locally, and really get to grips with the shortage of affordable accommodation and the scandal of homelessness.

The key housing asks are:-

► The creation of a devolved Housing Investment Fund to the City Region to allow money spent by Government and the Homes and Communities Agency in the region to be targeted to where it is most needed.

► A collaboration with Government to pioneer a radical Housing First model to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.

► A Stamp Duty Holiday to allow the City Region to create a fund to remediate uneconomic brown field land and boost house building in urban neighbourhoods.

Steve Rotheram said:- "This is a real no brainer and an obvious area where modest additional resources, financial flexibility and a real commitment to devolution would give us the tools to tackle 1 of our biggest policy priorities. It is obviously an area where local people know best, and local decision making can deliver a great deal more."

In addition to his asks on infrastructure and housing, the Metro Mayor is calling for greater flexibility on skills expenditure including local control over the underspend on the national apprenticeship levy.  Steve Rotheram said:- "Allowing us to spend money paid by businesses from the City Region, within the City Region is both logical and efficient. It's such a small ask, and for that reason it really does provide a measure of the Government's willingness to relax the Whitehall knows best mantra."


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