FSB’s concern over devolution deal for Sheffield City Region

Gordon Millward at his auto-electrical business on Newhall Road, Sheffield
Gordon Millward at his auto-electrical business on Newhall Road, Sheffield

The Federation of Small Businesses has expressed concern about the validity of a ‘devolution deal’ between the government and South Yorkshire councils.

The Government recently announced it has concluded a deal aimed at handing over more control to councils in the Sheffield City Region. But the FSB has expressed “deep concern” that a localised deal between chancellor George Osborne and council leaders does not match up to the promises made in relation to the vision for a Northern Powerhouse.

Devolution for English regions was promised in the aftermath of the Scottish referendum, when the Prime Minister is on record as saying the additional powers given to the Scottish Parliament would have to be matched by similar powers for the English Regions.

But the FSB claims doing local deals with cities such as Sheffield and Manchester delivers very little by way of devolutionary powers and does not meet the expectations of local businesses.

Gordon Millward, regional chairman of the FSB, said: “This is bad news for the north. This backroom deal has delivered an arrangement which breaks up Yorkshire and does nothing to suggest an empowerment of the northern economy.

“It appears to be more of a ‘divide and conquer’ policy to ensure decision-making powers remain firmly in Whitehall. The political climate reflects a rapacious appetite for decisions about the north to be made in the north. We need a devolution settlement which transcends the boundaries of local councils and is based on fulfilling the vision of building a genuine northern powerhouse.”