Monday, July 4, 2016

News: How SCR's Mayoral Combined Authority will work

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The scheme of delegation has been prepared that sets out how key decisions will be made on skills, transport and infrastructure, and job creation in the Sheffield city region (SCR) - and how £1.3 billion of funding will be spent.

As a proposed devolution deal progresses, a Mayoral Combined Authority is set to be created, building on the 2013 agreement which saw the nine local authorities that comprise the city region create a new legal body with responsibility for transport, economic development and regeneration.


The deal includes a new gain share deal within an envelope of £30m a year for 30 years – giving the SCR the power to use new funding to boost local growth and invest in local manufacturing and innovation.

Further resources are due to be put at the SCR's disposal as part of the "single pot" agreed under the devolution deal. Estimates for this additional share of national funding streams to be included within the single SCR pot have been in excess of a further £1 billion but this is still being quantified through discussions with Government departments.

In return, the Government will require a directly elected mayor across South Yorkshire to hold accountability for the new powers. Elections are set to take place as soon as May 2017 and the mayor will chair the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority (CA), the members of which (the leaders of the constituent councils) will serve as the mayor's Cabinet.

The devolution deal will now be formalised in what is called a "Scheme" which will set out how a new Mayoral Combined Authority will work and how the mayor's powers will operate. Functions will be split between the mayor and the Combined Authority.

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Mayoral functions will include responsibility for a consolidated devolved transport budget - making decisions over what to do with Government funding earmarked for transport capital improvement schemes and highway maintenance. The mayor will also have responsibility for franchised bus services as a new government bill will give power to the mayor to franchise bus services across the city region.

Power will also be handed to the mayor to create a mayoral development corporation. A similar single body was set up in London which possesses the necessary planning powers to co-ordinate regeneration, development and physical transformation following the 2012 Olympics.

The mayor will also need to be consulted on planning applications of strategic importance to the SCR and power is to be granted to the mayor equivalent to the duty of the London mayor to prepare and publish a "spatial development strategy" - an overall strategic plan setting out an integrated economic, environmental, transport and social framework for the development of the city region over the next 25 years.

The mayor is also set to be installed as chair of the Sheffield City Region Joint Assets Board which aims to make more efficient use of public sector assets.

The mayor may undertake these functions individually, or delegate them to the cabinet or a committee made up of local authority leaders such as the current transport committee. They will also become a member of the Local Enterprise Partnership.

The current CA will keep its existing functions. It brought together two statutory bodies – the South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority (ITA) and the Economic Prosperity Board (EPB) in order to align political decision making around strategic economic development and transport.

It operates executive boards focusing on business growth, skills, housing, transport and infrastructure.

Additional CA functions following the devolution deal include taking control of a new additional £30m a year Investment Fund and having joint influence over the use of funding for 16-18 year olds, co-commissioning programmes with Government agencies deployed through an outcome based agreement, ensuring the young people leave school with the skills they need to make an impact in the city region economy.

The 19+ adult skills budget is set to be devolved from 2018/19 and the Combined Authority will have joint responsibility with Government to co-design employment support for the harder-to-help claimants.

The CA is set to exercise the objectives and functions of the Government's Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) which relate to improving the supply and quality of housing and regenerating and developing land and infrastructure.

On decision-making, where powers reside with the mayor the SCR Cabinet may ask them to reconsider mayoral strategies and funding plans if two-thirds of the members agree to do so. On proposals for decision by the CA the mayor will have one vote – as will other voting members on the CA.

Regarding funding, the CA currently issues a levy to its constituent councils regarding funding for transport projects. Rotherham Council's levy to fund transport services in the region was £11.5m for 2016/17. Further funding is paid as subscriptions to the Local Enterprise Partnership.

Other costs of the Authority that are not raised by way of a levy (and are not met from devolved or other funds) shall be met by the constituent and non-constituent councils. In addition, the mayor could also ask for a precept to cover costs in connection with the exercise of "mayoral functions."

The scheme was discussed by the CA last week and will go before Rotherham Council's cabinet and commissioners next week.

Before the new powers are formalised by Government, consultation with residents and businesses needs to take place. Public meetings are being held across the region and a consultation website has been launched.

Images: SCR Combined Authority

1 comments:

Richard Goddard July 4, 2016 at 1:32 PM  

No doubt most of the money will be spent within the Sheffield border.

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