The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has agreed to unlock £5 million in emergency funding secured through the West Yorkshire devolution deal to put local authority partners’ immediate priorities at the heart of the recovery from COVID-19.

The money will be used to respond to the immediate need to support the recovery from the pandemic, with projects identified in partners’ local recovery plans.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said: “It’s vital that we do all we can to support our partners and communities across the region as they look to recover from the awful impact of COVID-19. The funding we have secured through the West Yorkshire devolution deal gives us the flexibility to invest in and support economic recovery priorities right across West Yorkshire and will make a real difference.

“We’re making the limited resources we have available go as far as possible, but if we’re to properly support people, communities and the economy reach its full potential, we will need much greater levels of investment. We have drafted a £1.6 billion recovery plan and presented this to Government as an investment proposition. We look forward to a time beyond the pandemic when we can deliver it in full.”

The £5 million in immediate support is being made available from the £38 million annual gainshare funding secured as part of the West Yorkshire devolution deal, which was agreed between the region’s leaders and the government in March 2020.

On a per capita basis, it means Bradford will receive around £1,157,000; Calderdale £453,000; Kirklees £942,000; Leeds £1,700,000; and Wakefield £746,000. The funding will be used to deliver urgent cultural and economic initiatives across the region.

Unlocking funding from gainshare for local priorities follows a £13.5 million investment in skills, training and employment support agreed by the Combined Authority in late 2020, which will help over 10,000 people build new skills and access training or find work, over the next two years.

Gainshare funding will give the Mayoral Combined Authority greater ability to prioritise investments in a way that will make a real difference to people and communities in West Yorkshire – including interventions on skills, businesses, inclusion, climate and infrastructure.

The landmark £1.8 billion West Yorkshire devolution deal was signed into law last week, after the devolution order was approved by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The people of West Yorkshire will be asked to elect the first Mayor for the region in May 2021.

Devolution will bring at least an additional £1.8 billion of public investment into local control over the next 30 years, and enable the five councils and the Mayoral Combined Authority to improve the lives of local people by supporting transport improvements, adult education, skills and jobs, infrastructure, housing and regeneration, and the region’s economic recovery.

The Combined Authority, working with the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and partners, has developed the West Yorkshire Economic and Transport Recovery Plans, a fully costed package of essential funding required to support the West Yorkshire’s recovery over the next five years.

The £1.6 billion plan, which the Combined Authority has called on the government to support in March’s Budget, has the potential to help create thousands of new jobs in high-growth industries vital to meeting UK and global challenges, deliver clean growth that benefits all residents, and create a modern, sustainable transport system.

Analysis carried out on behalf of the Combined Authority shows that without action to support the region’s recovery, unemployment risks rising to 14% in 2021, with more than £15 billion being wiped off the value of the region’s economy and the job market not recovering to pre-crisis levels until 2027.