Why a Cardiff City Deal is good for all of Wales

Andrew Morgan says that the infrastructure is now in place to deliver on the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal.

The ink is now dry on the historic Cardiff Capital Region City Deal document signed by the ten local authority partners with ministers from the UK and Welsh Governments.

And three months on, significant progress has been made to ensure a strict but rigorous governance infrastructure is in place to deliver it.

The City Deal document outlines a programme of investment amounting to £1.2 billion that is anticipated to unlock significant economic growth across the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR).

Over its 20-year lifetime, it is hoped the City Deal will deliver as many as 25,000 new jobs, and £4 billion of private sector investment across the region.

The ten leaders of the local authorities in the CCR, the Secretary of State for Wales Stephen Crabb, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Greg Hands, and First Minister Carwyn Jones signed the City Deal document in a ceremony at Admiral’s head office in Cardiff.

It was important for us to hold such a momentous signing as this at the region’s only FTSE-100 listed company.

Admiral is a shining beacon of what can be achieved Wales, and we hope the City Deal can provide the opportunities as well create an environment and conditions that will enable many others to thrive and follow in such footsteps.

I also think it is important to stress that this City Deal is for the whole Cardiff Capital Region – and indeed, we would expect to see its benefits reach many other parts of Wales as well through an ‘economic ripple’.

Yes, of course, our capital city is a major economic driver for Wales: we can improve that even further, whilst ensuring the rest of the region benefits.

How? This is the largest-per-head City Deal in the UK to date, and will help boost economic growth by improving transport links, increasing skills, helping people into work and giving businesses the support they need to grow.

It will also establish strong governance across the region through a Cardiff Capital Region Cabinet. Through this, the ten local authority leaders will join up decision making, pool resources, and partner with business.

It includes:  

  • £1.2 billion investment in the Cardiff Capital Region’s infrastructure through a 20-year Investment Fund. A key priority for investment will be the delivery of the South East Wales Metro, including the Valley Lines Electrification programme.
  • The creation of a non-statutory Regional Transport Authority to co-ordinate transport planning and investment, in partnership with the Welsh Government.
  • The development of capabilities in Compound Semiconductor Applications. The UK Government will invest £50 million to establish a new Catapult Centre in Wales. The CCR will also prioritise investment in research and development, and provide support for high value, innovative businesses.
  • The Cardiff Capital Region Skills and Employment Board will be created (building on existing arrangements) to ensure skills and employment provision is responsive to the needs of local businesses and communities.
  • The CCR and the Welsh Government will work with Department of Work and Pensions to co-design the future employment support from 2017 for people with a health condition or disability and/or long term unemployed.
  • A Cardiff Capital Region Business Organisation will be established to ensure that there is a single voice for business to work with local authority leaders.
  • The Welsh Government and the Cardiff Capital Region commit to a new partnership approach to housing development and regeneration. This will ensure the delivery of sustainable communities, through the use and re-use of property and sites.

Both the UK and Welsh Government are contributing £500 million to the CCR Investment Fund respectively. The ten local authorities in the CCR will contribute a minimum of £120 million over the duration of the Fund.

Decisions on the prioritisation of the proposed schemes other than the Metro will be taken by a CCR Cabinet, in consultation with business leaders and education professionals.

The ten local authorities have committed to adopt an assurance framework for the Investment Fund, which will be agreed by the UK and Welsh Governments, to ensure good value for money and that proposed projects are underpinned by a robust business case.

In order to deliver the CCR‘s City Deal commitments and a longer-term economic strategy, the ten local authorities have requested greater financial autonomy and flexibility. As part of this City Deal the Welsh Government will explore with the Cardiff Capital Region:


  • The devolution of business rate income above an agreed growth baseline to provide funding for the City Deal programme.
  • Providing the ability to levy an infrastructure supplement.
  • Creating the option for the local authorities to use alternative finance sources.
  • Removing conditions around some specific Welsh Government grants, to allow funding to be pooled at the regional level in areas such as school support and interventions that seek to address poverty.


The key now is putting the delivery infrastructure in place, rolling our sleeves up, and getting on with the work. There is much to do.

No one said it will be easy, but the partners are committed to achieving this truly transformational programme.

I would like to finish by wishing our colleagues in the Swansea Bay region every success with their own bid. It is important for Wales that both regions have City Deals.

Councillor Andrew Morgan is Chair of the City Deal Leaders Group and Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council.

5 thoughts on “Why a Cardiff City Deal is good for all of Wales

  1. The money would be better spent on the poorer West and North, or on transport links from those areas to the capital. Instead you’ll echo the mistake made in Westminster of investing in the capital at the expense of everyone else.

  2. For years Cardiff has sucked investment out of the rest of Wales. This plan will only intensify that on the mistaken and misleading premise that what is good for Cardiff is good for the rest of Wales. How do the proposals above benefit Wrexham or Rhyl for instance? They can only damage the faltering development of Swansea and Newport. If these proposals go ahead, as they probably will in some form, they will only set Cardiff up to compete with Bristol, a competition in which it can only come second. A straw in the wind might be that the GWR summary timetable omits Newport from its outline map and schedule. Will the line from Cardiff to Swansea ever be electrified after completion to Cardiff? What would be the point? Everything would be focused on Cardiff. My interest is that my degrees are from Cardiff University but I live in Swansea.

  3. Really interesting article, thank you. Most people are fully behind a Capital Region bid and really want it to succeed.

    While I appreciate some information may be confidential or still being finalised, a few questions If I may…

    1. “The devolution of business rate income above an agreed growth baseline…”

    What is that agreed-growth baseline and what amount of funding are were talking about? Is there a claw-back? How are rates spent? Are they pooled? If not, does each LA keep whatever they raise? Are there strings on the use of that funding? Does the CCR board have oversight?

    2. “Creating the option for the local authorities to use alternative finance sources… ”

    Are we talking pension funds? NPDTs? PPPs? If there an issue with on-book borrowing from HMT to be resolved? Can LAs agree x-border deals or pool infrastructure plans to get best terms from a lender? How will this work with plans to create a Welsh Infrastructure Commission?


  4. I very much support the Cardiff Capital Project but the argument that it is going to benefit the whole of Wales is very tenuous. I would have thought that given our experience of hearing that line from Westminster (what’s good for SE England is good for the UK) would enable us to avoid that particular elephant trap.

    The Cardiff Capital Region could benefit rural Wales in areas surrounding Brecon, Builth Wells or even Newtown if research was carried out into what connections these rural hubs need with the CCR for their hinterlands to develop and prosper and practical plans drawn up to implement the change.

    However the focus has been on getting local authorities in the Valleys and along the coast to work with each other. North Wales starts at Merthyr Tydfil. Perhaps when the National Infrastructure Commission is established, it could look at these wider issues in a way the the CCR is prevented from doing so by its brief.

  5. Was this sponsored content?

    Truly, when it comes to the grandiose, belief is more powerful than evidence.

    For Cardiff and Wales to mount the Richard Florida treadmill* will ensure that our Little-London-on-the-Taff creates a land fit for mini-Philip Greens (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/15/philip-green-bhs-tycoon-tax-parliamentary-inquiry). Wonderful, I can hardly contain my enthusiasm.

    * Read Dr Mark Lang’s excellent summary in http://www.fsb.org.uk/docs/default-source/fsb-org-uk/seminar-series-2016-no-1-final.pdf?sfvrsn=0.

    Please note that I imply no criticism of Admiral, nor the estimable Henry Engelhardt, a company which appears to be socially responsible (despite its egregious advertising).

    As Barry says (Metro report), focus on opportunity, not need. So, rather than think about 72 000 jobs needed (sic) for the people in the Valleys (and to combat their very real deprivation), the focus is to shift to the 24 000 jobs hoped (sic) to be created by the Cardiff City Deal. The new economy is to serve incomers – opportunities (sic) for the creative classes that 10 000 other cities globally are building stadia, opera houses and other purportedly competitive icons to attract. For all this expenditure on shiny infrastructure, so few jobs!

    But, never mind. Let’s ask Mid Wales, and North Wales… Had any ripples yet from the previous Welsh Government splurges of expenditure up there? Not expecting a tsunami anytime soon, I’ll be bound! Andrew Morgan’s wild claim that the CCR is good for Wales is implausible in the extreme. Where else has it worked, Andrew?

    And what of the distinctive character of Cardiff, and culture of Cymru? We can be sure that the new quangos won’t be insisting on Welsh language requirements (er, I have a vocabulary of about 100 words so far. I guess I’m merely an incomer from New Zealand, but I certainly didn’t come here for the money!). So, it’s goodbye to all that uncompetitive sentimentalism (yes, I miss the great singing, already now muted when Wales plays), a warm happy hello to the further marginalisation of the Welsh in their own country, the annihilation of the language and the culture, and the triumph of the bland as our beautiful Cardiff becomes Anywhere. Simply another clone of cities everywhere, never to escape the grind of the economic treadmill – until the inevitable crash when unsustainability meets environmental reality.

    The power in the land will be held by the unelected and unaccountable, as the democratic deficit widens, and with it, the wealth divide. The Assembly will control less and less as privatisation will eventually conquer the last redoubts in the NHS, education and welfare.

    This initiative is not designed to distribute wealth (well, only in ripples, apparently the new term for trickledown). Torfaen and others councils have signed up, and will hoping from crumbs from the top table of the CCR to reduce the disparity of its GVA/capita relative to Cardiff. Good luck with that!

    Of course, there is a an alternative to the failing neo-liberal paradigm that underlies the City Deal. We could focus on the real needs of real people in the real world. Revolutionary thought! Let’s start with the foundation economy (Adamson and Lang) – where most of us struggle to survive on inadequate pensions and benefits and low wages. Here is our choice, Floridiana or Foundation? And which political parties offer us that choice? What exactly is the economy for?

    Michael Moore’s excellent new film, Where To Invade Next, gives some pointers as to what we should be learning from abroad. The insularity of the UK is not nearly as great as that of the US, but our resistance to truly successful ideas in education, prisoner rehabilitation, sex education, transport, health care et al, should not be replicated in Wales. We can ask for better, not merely ask for more.

    For Brave New Wales, read Foolhardy Same-as-same-as Anywhere. For CCR, read business-as-usual with added miracle ingredient, hype.

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