34 bids for devolution in England
A radical shake up of local government took a step forward with the announcement that 34 cities, towns, counties or combinations of same in England have submited proposals for devolved powers before the government’s deadline. Earlier this summer, the Chancellor had asked areas to put forward proposals to follow Greater Manchester’s devolution deal last year. There were also four applications from cities in Scotland (3) and Wales (1).
The bids include application for powers in a wide range of spending areas including education, transport, healthcare, housing and business support. The volume of bids demonstrates a significant appetite to be part of a devolution revolution across the country, with local leaders signing up to the Chancellor’s vision of an accountable elected mayor leading strong regional areas who look after their own affairs.
Speaking of the opportunity created, Prime Minister David Cameron said, ‘The best businesses would never shy away from allowing their customers to shape the way they improve their services. If we are bold enough, government can go one better by actually putting many of those services in the hands of local people. It is also a proven reality that money spent closer to people is often money spent wiser so we can really deliver more for less.’
Successful future deals from the proposals will be supported through the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill currently passing through Parliament and will be considered as part of the Spending Review process. The Bill puts in place the legal framework across the country that will make it simpler for devolving more powers to more places and sets out far reaching powers to be devolved to Greater Manchester and for creating a city-wide elected metro mayor.
The 34 English submissions cover the majority of city regions and counties with some having already agreed geographical combinations such as D2N2 covering Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. Press reports suggest that a number of authorities were understood to be undecided at the deadline or featured in more than one bid whilst one area had decided against a submission.