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I want to build Britain’s economic future on our great cities like Leeds and Bradford. For too long, the country’s been reliant on London and the South East. Our national economy has not been running at full capacity - and we’ve suffered as a result. We’ve been wasting the innovation, ingenuity and enterprise that I know exist in Yorkshire and elsewhere.
But economic revival must start with cutting the massive budget deficit. If we don’t, there will be no recovery and no growth - just higher inflation, rising interest rates and falling confidence. So getting the deficit down - and keeping it down - is the first step in turning Britain around. However, that cannot be the only part of our strategy for growth. We also have to support business, enterprise and entrepreneurs - and in every corner of the country.
There’s no rule that says our economic recovery will have to be powered by one part of Britain. Why can’t Yorkshire lead the world in advanced manufacturing or scientific research? And I want to see the brightest students not just coming to study in Leeds, Bradford and York but having the chance to stay and work in Yorkshire when they graduate - keeping their knowledge and expertise here.
Parts of Yorkshire have been locked out of prosperity for too long. A whole new approach to regional economic growth is needed, where power is devolved and local people and local business can be supported and rewarded for enterprise and innovation. In the coming years, Leeds will have the chance to elect its own executive mayor, powerful local politicians who know the area and can drive through projects. And the council will be able to set up banks, develop property, run new services, own assets - you name it, they will be able to do it. We’ll also give Leeds the power to club together with other areas in Yorkshire to form their own local enterprise partnerships, working with local businesses to attract investment and chart their economic future.
Of course, central government can help stimulate economic growth by lightening the burden of taxes and red tape. We’ve issued a new ‘one-in-one-out’ rule for regulation. If any Minister wants to bring in a new regulation, they’ll first have to get rid of an existing one. I believe this is a truly revolutionary culture change for Government. And over the coming months we’ll go much further - establishing a more competitive corporate tax regime. To encourage new businesses, for example, we will abolish employers’ national insurance contributions on the first 10 jobs they create.
We can also help to support business and enterprise with the back-up they need. Helping to make sure the banks supply credit to help with cashflow, developing an education system that provides a skilled workforce and establishing modern transport links, a superfast broadband network and secure energy supplies which businesses can rely on. Ultimately though the best thing government can do for business is to let them get on with it. So this coalition will know when to get involved and when to get out of the way.
I passionately believe we don’t have to accept things as they are. Our first economic priority must be getting to grips with the public finances. We’ve already made a start. But simply cutting the deficit and hoping for economic revival is not enough. We have to transform our economy so that every person in every region shares in growth - so that the future of Leeds and Yorkshire is in your hands.