The State of Britain

Regional unemployment the second highest in the UK and concerns continue over Yorkshire & The Humber’s overlapping Local Enterprise Partnerships

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Unemployment in Yorkshire & The Humber was almost unchanged at 136,000 between March and May, a slight increase of 0.1% to 5.0%. At 2.6% and 5.6% the SW of England and the North East had the lowest and highest unemployment rates in the country. The UK unemployment rate stands at 3.8%.

Yorkshire & The Humber’s average property prices increased by 0.4% to £162,520 during the month which uplifted the annual growth rate to 1.9%. In comparison, UK prices increased by 0.1% to £229,431 during May which reduced the annual growth rate to 1.2%.

In its review this month of the 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) – the private sector-led partnerships between businesses and local public sector bodies that support local economic growth – the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons found that from 2015-16 to date; £9.1bn of taxpayers’ money has been awarded to LEPs through three tranches of Growth Deals. The north of England, with 11 LEPs, has received most of the funding at £3.4bn (38%), the East of England, with three LEPs, has received the least with £703m, and London, with one LEP, has received £435m.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government considers the population of an area as well as the strength of the LEP’s strategic economic plans and projects when deciding Growth Deal allocations. There are overlapping LEPs in the Humber and North Lincolnshire which means these LEPs will be unable to bid for funds from the Government’s proposed Shared Prosperity Fund, which will replace EU structural funding after Brexit. An overlap in Yorkshire will disappear after Chesterfield decided to withdraw from the Sheffield City Region (‘SCR’) LEP next year. The town is currently part of the SCR grouping and the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham & Nottinghamshire (D2N2) LEP.

The SCR LEP has received £365m, the 7th most in England, whereas Leeds City Region LEP has received £695m, the most in England. Other Yorkshire & The Humber LEPS awards have been Greater Lincolnshire £155m, York, North Yorkshire & East Riding £146m and Humber £142m. The Ministry does not to evaluate the Local Growth Fund which means it has no understanding of what impact spending through LEPs has on local economic growth. The latest growth figures for the region from ESCoE showed growth at 1.4% which compared with the UK average of 1.5%.

The 24 Enterprise Zones designated in England in 2011 to improve economic growth had created 17,307 jobs by 2017 instead of the forecast 54,000 jobs by 2015. BBC-commissioned research conducted by think tank charity Centre for Cities also found that in two areas the number of jobs had fallen. Enterprise zones offered cheaper business rates, superfast broadband and lower levels of planning control. According to the research only 370 jobs were created in the Aire Valley Leeds Enterprise Zone, with 320 jobs lost in the Humber Enterprise Zone which made it the second worst performing zone in England. The cost of the scheme is disputed, with The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government claiming £101m, £215m less than the BBC’s estimate of £316m+. The Ministry also disputes the methodology used in the research.

BBC analysis of ONS projections has found thirty seaside towns could see a fall in the number of residents under the age of 30 by the year 2039, with the biggest decline in the north of England. North East Lincolnshire could see a fall of 8%, the fourth largest decline in England, with North Lincolnshire and Scarborough eighth and ninth, losing 7% each. Coastal authorities in the south such as Bristol could see a 15% rise in the number of children and young people. The Coastal Communities Fund has invested £218m in 354 projects across the UK since 2012 with the latest figures showing 27% or c£25m deployed in the South West and 11% or £12m in Yorkshire & The Humber. In the spring, the House of Lords Select Committee on regenerating seaside towns found that Brighton and Bournemouth have shown that coastal areas can successfully regenerate and that the Government should secure town deals for other deprived seaside areas similar to the funding offered to Grimsby.