'Empowering our towns and cities'
If all of our big cities closed their output gap – in other words met their potential – we would see an additional £41-billion on GDP every year.
Since last summer, employment in the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber and the East Midlands has actually risen faster than the UK average, and faster than in the south east.
Our vision is of an economy running on all cylinders, built on many more sites and sources of economic endeavour. Clearly that requires serious investment. That's why we have created the Green Investment Bank, we're extending High Speed Rail, creating a network of German-style Technology and Innovation Centres. This Government is also providing for record numbers of apprenticeships. We've protected schools funding and reformed higher education funding to keep our universities world class. And we're putting a big focus on infrastructure, too. Guarantees for new infrastructure investment – up to £50 billion.
But we've also learned the limitations of well-meaning handouts from Whitehall. Especially now, when money is so tight. The other side of this has to be freedom. Empowering our towns and cities so they can innovate and drive their own growth. Empowering them – crucially – to attract outside investment; raise their own money; spend it in the ways they need.
We've presided over the biggest transfer of financial freedoms to Scotland and Wales. We're creating local enterprise partnerships: getting rid of RDAs and creating proper vehicles for business to provide vision and leadership, driving the economic strategy for their area.