Thursday, August 6, 2015

News: Devolution decision due in September

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The Government and Sheffield city region are expected to make an announcement about progress on a Devolution Deal and the prospect of an elected mayor in September.

In the Summer Budget, Chancellor George Osborne highlighted that an agreement has been reached with the leaders of the ten councils of Greater Manchester to devolve further powers to the city and that talks are underway with the Sheffield city region.

In May, the combined authority in the Sheffield city region held "informal discussions" regarding the possibility of an elected metro mayor. It followed comments from the Chancellor who expressed that he wasn't imposing a mayor on anyone but added that if the regions wanted to be part of the "new revolution in city government" they would need to have one.

The Government went on to ask city regions to submit formal, fiscally-neutral proposals and an agreed geography on mayor and devolution by September 4 if they want to agree a devolution deal in return for a mayor by the Spending Review.

Lord O'Neill, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, visited local leaders in Sheffield city region this week. As Commercial Secretary, Lord O'Neill is responsible for the Northern Powerhouse and UK's City Region devolution agenda.

Sir Councillor Stephen Houghton CBE, Chair of the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority, said: "“Sheffield City Region will be central to the success of the Northern Powerhouse and today's visit from Commercial Secretary Lord O’Neill, who has been appointed to lead the Government's Northern Powerhouse initiative, underlines our importance to the Government's unfolding devolution agenda. At our meeting with the Commercial Secretary today we discussed our ambitious plans for Sheffield City Region and how Whitehall officials will help us to realise them."

James Newman, Chairman of Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), added: "As a top economist, Lord O'Neill recognises the importance of devolving power from Whitehall to Sheffield City Region to unlocking economic growth and creating better jobs for local people. During this visit today we spoke with Lord O'Neill about our detailed plans to grow the City Regions economy and fund some of our ambitious projects."

The new model of civic leadership and local power will sen Manchester take on funding and power over transport, skills and housebuilding. Manchester is also set to receive 100% of growth in business rates and it was later signed over a £6 billion NHS budget, taking control of health, social care and GP spending in the region.

Sheffield City Region LEP website

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