South Yorkshire has agreed a devolution deal with the Treasury that will see it take control of transport and planning in the region
The Sheffield City Region has signed a devolution deal with Chancellor George Osborne that will see it handed more powers and a vote for a mayor in 2017.
The deal includes devolved powers over transport budgets and franchised bus services and strategic planning, and gives the region’s civic leaders and extra £30m funding a year over 30 years.
Support from each of the local councils within the Sheffield City Region is required for the deal to go ahead and it is subject to a programme of consultation and engagement with residents and businesses over the coming months.
Councillor Sir Stephen Houghton, Chair of the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority, said: “This proposal marks the next step on our devolution journey and will enable local leaders to make bigger and better local decisions over skills, business growth and infrastructure.”
Sheffield City Region is one of 38 towns, cities, counties and regions that have submitted proposals to Westminster to take control of how public money is spent in their area.
Earlier this week at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton opposition whip, Conor McGinn, accused Labour of being “far behind” the tories on the devolution agenda.
He added that the party was also lacking a consistent and coherent policy on the issue.
McGinn was speaking at a fringe event also attended by Nick Forbes, Labour leader for Newcastle council, who said he had been in China the previous week with Osborne actively “looking for investment from China” for the region in regards to housing, adding that there had been a lot of interested parties and he planned to do a similar thing next time looking specifically for investment for Transport of the North.
Forbes added that Northern Powerhouse and devolution was a “missed opportunity for Labour”.
Speaking at another fringe event Jon Lamonte, chief executive of Transport for Greater Manchester, said he had been in Singapore recently also looking for interest in schemes, adding that there had been a lot of interest and not just for Manchester, but the regions as well.
Sheffield City Region - Powers in full
The new Mayor will act as Chair to the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority and will exercise a range of powers devolved from central government including:
- Responsibility over the region’s transport budget, with a multi-year settlement to be agreed at the Spending Review
- Responsibility for franchised bus services, which will support the Combined Authority’s delivery of smart and integrated ticketing across its councils
- Responsibility for an identified Key Route Network of local authority roads that will be collaboratively managed and maintained at the city region level by the Combined Authority on behalf of the Mayor
- Powers over strategic planning
The Sheffield City Region Combined Authority, working with the Mayor, will also receive the following powers:
- Control of a new gain share deal, like that agreed with Greater Manchester and other areas, within an envelope of £30 million a year for 30 years – giving Sheffield the power to boost local growth and invest in local manufacturing and innovation
- Responsibility for chairing an area-based review of 16+ skills provision and devolved 19+ adult skills funding from 2018/19
- Joint responsibility with government to co-design employment support for the harder-to-help claimants, many of whom are currently referred to the Work Programme and Work Choice
- More effective joint working with UKTI to boost trade and investment, and responsibility to work with government to develop and implement a devolved approach to the delivery of national business support programmes from 2017
- To support the development of the area’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District, the government will offer the Sheffield City Region expert advice and support to ensure they are able to put forward a City Region led proposal to undertake a Science and Innovation audit
- The Sheffield City Region will work with HM Government to achieve their ambitions for a national Institute for Infrastructure within Doncaster
- The government will work with the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority to agree specific funding flexibilities to a Spending Review timetable. The joint ambition will be to give Sheffield City Region Combined Authority a single pot to invest in its economic growth
Further powers may be agreed over time and included in future legislation.