Wednesday 3 March 2021
Speaking after today’s Budget Statement, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director of Yorkshire Universities, said:
“The shock that the country has faced during the past year, as a result of the pandemic, is laid bare in the economic figures published by the Office for Budget Responsibility, and was set out by the Chancellor in his statement.
“It is encouraging to see the Chancellor start to outline a plan for growth. We would encourage devolution and place-based interventions and investment to be the cornerstones of that plan for the English regions, as part of an overall objective to change the ‘economic geography of the UK’.
“We welcome the announcement that Leeds is to be the location of the new National Infrastructure Bank. The city is one of the major financial centres in the UK, and we have a wealth of knowledge and expertise within the region’s universities on funding and financing infrastructure. Following the recent news that the University of Leeds will be part of the UK Centre for Greening Finance and Investment, Yorkshire is reinforcing its position as a pivotal hub for infrastructure investment in the country.
“Other measures, such as the Help to Grow Management scheme chime with YU’s message that improved management and leadership skills are central to business and organisational success and productivity growth. Yorkshire’s universities have some of the best Business Schools in the UK, and I am sure that they could make a valuable contribution to the scheme.
“In relation to research and innovation, the UK-wide ‘Future Fund: Breakthrough programme to invest in innovative companies will be well-received in Yorkshire, where we have strong assets and potential in sectors such as health-tech, bio-economy, advanced manufacturing and green energy. We also look forward to responding to the review on R&D tax credits, and we welcome the increased incentives for new apprenticeships.
“Further support for key sectors in Yorkshire has been called for by many in the region. The cultural and creative industries have faced huge challenges since March last year. Given the importance of the sector to Yorkshire’s economy, and its future long-term prospects, it is imperative that this support reaches all parts of industry, and the government may need to look at increasing its support. And our partners in the Humber will no doubt welcome being named as one of the new designated Freeports, and the recipients of further investment in offshore wind.
“Finally, looking at the Budget from an investment perspective for regions and localities, the publication of the Levelling Up Fund prospectus gives us an idea of what type of projects will be funded in the first phase, and it is good to see universities recognised as key partners in the programme. Similarly, further funding for the Towns Fund will be welcome across Yorkshire. However, bidding for separate national pots of funding does generate transactional costs for local government and other institutions. It would perhaps be more effective and efficient for these types of funding streams to form part of a broader, coherent and integrated plan and investment framework designed within the region itself.”
Yorkshire Universities has a shared commitment to strengthen the contribution of universities and higher education institutions to the economic, social and civic well-being of people and places in Yorkshire.
The members of Yorkshire Universities are: Leeds Arts University; Leeds Conservatoire; Leeds Beckett University; Leeds Trinity University; Sheffield Hallam University; University of Bradford; University of Huddersfield; University of Hull; University of Leeds; University of Sheffield; University of York; and York St John University.
The Chair of Yorkshire Universities is Professor Shirley Congdon, Vice-Chancellor, University of Bradford.
Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director, Yorkshire Universities