As Chief Executive of one of the region’s largest housing organisations, I believe that for local people, jobs and housing, a regional devolution deal is to be welcomed.
In my view the funding deal that has been negotiated by the local authorities and the LEP – £1bn, or £815 for each head of local population – represents an outstanding offer for the West of England economy. The package, larger per capita than any other in the country – larger even than the celebrated Manchester devolution agreement – presents a huge opportunity for the Bath & North East Somerset area.
I would urge our politicians to consider the very significant benefits to local people and business in their assessment of the proposals. More jobs, housing and better transport and roads are essential for the longer term economic prosperity of our region. It seems to me that local people would get a great deal, especially since each local authority would retain its autonomy and have a seat at the decision- making table.
I believe this deal represents a rare opportunity to boost our regional economy at an unprecedented rate. This level of investment, if well-directed, would have a huge positive impact, allowing the region to plan and deliver ambitious, important projects benefiting existing and future generations. Support for employers to create new, high-quality jobs, a commitment to boosting skills and access to training, new housing and investment in improving transport and connectivity are the keys to unlocking the future prosperity of our region.
The goals of this agenda mirror our own strategic business priorities at Curo; building much-needed new and affordable housing and supporting people into work and education are important to us. The new powers and funding will offer opportunities to our customers, and support our housebuilding and landlord services.
I hope that the West of England local authorities will have the vision and the confidence to vote ‘yes’ to the regional devolution deal and further support the strategic and longer term growth needed in our local economy.