South Yorkshire handed more spending power

Fargate in Sheffield Sheffield people will be able to decide how to spend the money, says the council leader

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Four South Yorkshire councils are to be given a share of a £700m fund under plans for regions across the UK to be handed more powers.

Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield councils will be able to spend the money as they choose.

Councillor Julie Dore, leader of Sheffield Council, said: "Local people, politicians and business leaders can decide how we spend that money."

In return for the cash the authorities must sign up to a series of pledges.

One of the region's main promises is to introduce 4,200 apprenticeships.

At the moment councils running England's major cities have to lobby central government if they want extra money to invest in a major transport scheme or regeneration project.

Ms Dore highlighted digital and media, healthcare technology and advanced manufacturing as industries important to the city's prosperity.

'Big first step'

Analysis

The key to this is not new money, or even more money for Sheffield, but who spends the money.

Normally Whitehall officials spend the cash on things like transport for South Yorkshire, but the Government is keen that our councils now make the decisions.

Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley will be keen to make sure those decisions do not just benefit Sheffield. The idea of letting a city region keep the business rates it generates, rather than sharing them around the country may backfire if places like Barnsley, that don't bring in as much as Sheffield, are seen to lose out.

As for the city in this city region, they'll be looking to see if the money can help get stalled projects like the Sevenstone shopping centre off the ground.

She said: "We need to have those skilled people for those jobs and we're best placed to do that."

The Sheffield City Region Partnership brings together the nine local authorities Barnsley, Bassetlaw, Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Dales, Doncaster, North East Derbyshire, Rotherham and Sheffield.

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam, said: "This is a big first step in a major handover of power."

He said thousands of people in Sheffield would be given support to update their skills and get new qualifications.

James Newman, chairman of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "We can make sure we have a highly skilled workforce which corresponds with the city region's business needs.

"Our transport deal will ensure that our workforce can travel faster, smarter and more efficiently."

John Mothersole, chief executive of Sheffield City Council, said: "The proposals in our deal signal an unprecedented shift in control away from Whitehall."

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