Yesterday’s Spring Budget signalled an important commitment to Edinburgh and to our neighbouring local authorities.
By announcing a City Deal for the region, the Chancellor cemented two years’ worth of positive conversations between Edinburgh and the South East Scotland region, the Scottish Government and the UK Government.
As Scotland’s capital city, we have been working closely with our neighbouring authorities: East Lothian, Fife, Midlothian, Scottish Borders and West Lothian; on a deal which will drive productivity and growth while reducing inequalities and deprivation.
We initially submitted our proposals in September 2015 and remain as determined as ever to negotiate greater fiscal powers and funding towards strategic housing, transport and infrastructure, to help the region to become the most connected, creative, inclusive and innovative place in Europe.
Each local authority has different strengths and opportunities. yet we are also a divided region, with significant numbers missing out on prosperity.
We are performing well economically, but we are not achieving our full growth potential. In some industries we have a critical skills shortage and infrastructure pushed to the limits of population growth.
And it is frankly not acceptable that almost a quarter of our region’s residents live in fuel poverty, while 21% of our children live in poverty.
But through more innovation, the development of skills and infrastructure projects and the acquisition of increased powers, we can further enhance the region’s reputation as a great place to live, work, do business and invest in, and help accelerate economic growth not just for the region, but for the whole of Scotland and the wider UK.
So, this week’s commitment from Westminster is a very positive step forward for our proposals to tackle inequality and accelerate substantial economic growth through investment in innovation, skills and infrastructure.