Statement from Mayor Dr Nik Johnson on the Autumn Statement
The following is a statement by Mayor Dr Nik Johnson following today’s Autumn Statement:
I, along with so many in our region, have been eagerly awaiting today’s Autumn Statement, especially with regard to further Government commitments to Government’s previous pledges on Cambridge 2040 and Network North.
But firstly devolution, I whole heartedly welcome today’s commitment to further devolution and the publication of a new framework for Combined Authorities to take that next step. The framework is a result of a lot of work and collaboration between Government and all of the Mayoral Combined Authorities, I’m proud to say that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority have been a part of that effort.
Onto Cambridge 2040, while I am supportive of the concept of Cambridge 2040 and of Government’s ambitions to stimulate high growth, making one of our cities a global science superpower. I like many residents remain concerned that the resources and infrastructure must be put in place to ensure our systems are not overburdened.
I very much hope Government will not contradict that ambition of local and devolved decision making in the delivery of Cambridge 2040, most importantly with today’s announcement which supports a Cambridge Delivery Group. I, and the Combined Authority, will continue to offer our placemaking expertise to make Cambridge 2040 the overwhelming success it can be.
Additionally, we are all very well aware of the water scarcity constraints which are choking Cambridge’s growth ambitions. I welcome the news that Government will be allocating £2 million to address this issue, and welcome the opportunity to work with Government to identify further resources which can be utilized to tackle the issue.
Earlier this year, Harvard University published a report: Why hasn’t UK regional policy worked? Within that report it made a strong case of deeper skills devolution and an acknowledgement that skills policy must align with local business needs and industry strategy.
We’re proud of our track record in skills. Partnership working and devolution has allowed us to play a key role in establishing the award-winning ARU Peterborough, which opened its doors last year. The university has worked with local employers to co-design it’s courses, which placed in in a further education cold sport, prides its ability to recruit students from a Peterborough postcode. This means local industry is receiving the pool of talent and skills it requires, and local residents have access to good, quality careers, in a thriving economy. Not only is it true levelling up in action, but regeneration done right and with the community at its heart.
We have proved that we can excel at delivering devolved skills funding. In the past three years our region has increased adult education participation, against a backdrop of national decline. We have achieved this by targeting further education cold spots, the most deprived areas in our region and seldom engaged cohorts. This has included diverting 50% of our adult education budget to deprived areas, fully funding English as a second language courses and are providing bursaries for care leavers.
We will continue to work with Government, local partners and other Mayoral Combined Authorities to take up the option for further devolution in the future.