Yorkshire Universities’ (YU) core mission is to strengthen the contribution of the higher education (HE) sector to place-based development, and to build strong and effective relationships with public, private and voluntary sector partners. Our members in West Yorkshire and the wider Leeds City Region play a vital role in the economic, social and cultural life of the region. In this letter, we provide some comments on the West Yorkshire Devolution Deal, which has been open to public consultation.
Guest blog by Kevin Richardson, Local Academy
It is almost a decade since the then coalition government announced it would abolish 9 Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) in England and replace them with what turned out to be 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). But the political and economic debates, which underpinned that decision, are as relevant today as they were ten years ago. The UK (especially England) remains the most centralised state in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. And not unrelated, because of ever-widening regional disparities of wealth and deprivation, the UK is rooted at the foot of the league table.
Tom Forth and Richard Jones’ recent report, ‘The Missing £4 Billion’, published by the innovation specialists, Nesta, presents in-depth analysis and a series of thought-provoking, yet practical, proposals on how to rebalance the current uneven geography of research and development (R&D) spending within the UK. The report is timely and has gained much attention, not least for the case the authors make for government to devolve 25 per cent of the planned uplift in R&D funding to nations, cities and regions. A stark statistic contained in the report is that large parts of the UK, including Yorkshire, are missing out on £4 billion a year in public R&D funding. Add to that private investment, and the same regions are unable to access a further £8 billion per annum. Not insignificant sums when you consider the total investment that is needed to ‘level up’ the nations and regions.
Background: the APPG is keen to make representations to the government with clear policy proposals that would support business, education, culture and sport and other sectors to rebuild after the lockdown.
Unsurprisingly, a huge amount is being written about the coronavirus crisis. Publications are shifting their entire focus onto the pandemic (‘there is only one story in the world right now’, says WIRED magazine). There has been an explosion of academic publications on the virus, with peer review processes struggling to keep up.
As we head towards week three of ‘lock-down’, my thoughts are foremost with those people suffering from COVID-19 and on the front line in the fight against the disease. Whatever our challenges have been in adjusting to the new norm of homeworking, nothing compares to the immediate personal risks facing many in the UK and across the world.