Friday, December 12, 2014

News: Sheffield city region agrees devolution deal

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The Sheffield city region (SCR) has agreed on a devolution deal with Government which will give local authority and business leaders greater say over how they grow the local economy.

Last year, the nine local authorities that comprise the SCR (Barnsley, Bassetlaw, Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Dales, Doncaster, North East Derbyshire, Rotherham and Sheffield) agreed to create a new legal body that would have responsibility for transport, economic development and regeneration.

The SCR Combined Authority brings together an integrated transport authority (ITA) and an economic prosperity board (EPB) in order to align political decision making around strategic economic development and transport. It does not take any powers from local authorities, and is intended to complement local authority decision making on these issues.

With stronger governance, the SCR Authority has a remit covering city region economic strategies, investment funds, the enterprise zone and inward investment activity. With this approach the public, businesses and agencies only have to deal with one decision making body rather than many.

Today's deal will shift power from Whitehall to the Combined Authority, giving local leaders greater influence over transport, skills, housing and business support.

It follows on from the city deals agreed in 2012 with the largest and most economically important English cities outside of London. Each city is able to specify the particular powers they need and want to boost local growth.

In the Sheffield city region the deal meant that central government will transfer money into a £72m total investment fund in skills and will also put money into a transport fund that could be worth £500m.

The city region's Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), a collaboration between businesses and the local authorities that are placed at the heart of growth in the regions, submitted its final Strategic Economic Plan in April which set an ambitious target of creating 70,000 new jobs in the Sheffield city region by 2023. In July the partnership secured £325m from the first wave of "Growth Deal" funding – an amount which will create over 28,000 jobs and training for 40,000 people.

Today's deal includes control over the local skills and employment system – allowing the region to ensure that young people and the unemployed are given the skills and training to get the jobs that the economy needs. It also gives the region influence over transport projects, providing more locally appropriate forms of business support, giving more control over buses (including working towards Oyster-style smart ticketing), and beginning discussions about having more say over initiatives to get people back to work, including the Work Programme.

Deputy Prime Minister and Sheffield MP (pictured, right), said: "I'm pleased to be bringing more power to the people of Sheffield today, after I've pushed for greater devolution to the North through my Northern Futures programme for so long.

"Today's deal will give council leaders clout to push forward local plans that strengthen the economy and the running of the city themselves, without waiting for Whitehall.

​"Putting the people of Sheffield in control of our cities destiny will ensure local plans are in line with what local people want. From transforming travel across the city, to improving access to skills training, the deal will mean changes in the city are shaped by those who live there.

"Gone are the days of central government controlling all local decisions, and I'm proud to be at the forefront of these forward-thinking changes that see cities like Sheffield able to grow as they see fit."

Images: Sheffield city region LEP

2 comments:

Anonymous,  December 12, 2014 at 12:32 PM  

It's not just Sheffield Nick, it's the Sheffield City Region.

...Positive news though all the same.

Owen Gleadall December 12, 2014 at 7:24 PM  

I wonder if Nick Clegg knows a) where Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham, Chesterfield, et al are? b) that we are all part of The City Region and NOT Sheffield. Typically Sheffield biased in everything we see and hear which is very disrespectful of all the other places in the region. Wealth and job creation is not just limited to Sheffield Nick - $7.2M contract signed in Barnsley this month!!

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