Devolution deals pitch for £60bn in Whitehall cash

4 Sep 15

As much as £60bn could be devolved to local authorities under proposals submitted to Whitehall today, with local retention of business rates and greater control of health and economic development spending among ideas put forward by combined authorities.

The Treasury has asked combined authorities and local councils to develop plans for additional local powers, as part of the government’s devolution drive. Proposals, which must be submitted today, will be considered as part of the Spending Review process, and it is thought around 30 have been made.

In a statement released to mark the submission of bids, the Local Government Association said up to £60bn could be devolved over five years if the proposals were backed. This could achieve £20.6bn in efficiency savings as a result of more joined up public spending.

“Local people know best how to spend money and run services in their local area,” LGA chair Gary Porter said.

“Councils and their partners have worked hard to get devolution deals in and produce innovative proposals to use public spending more effectively to meet local needs. Ministers have invited councils to continue coming forward with ambitious and innovative proposals and we hope they will maintain recent momentum over the course of the Parliament.”

The LGA highlighted that many submissions sought increased powers over NHS funding to boost integration of health and social care. It added that localising powers over skills, housing and transport could contribute to an extra £80bn of economic activity by 2020.

Among today’s proposals, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire have called for a 10-year transport settlement and for all housing investment to be devolved.

Gloucestershire has submitted plans for fully integrated health and social care as part of a single vision for health and wellbeing for the county, while the Liverpool city region has called for 100% retention of business rates income.

Porter said devolution was not an end in itself, but a way to improve the efficiency of public spending.

“If our public services are to survive the next five years, councils also need fairer funding alongside the freedom to pay for them,” he said.

“In the negotiations that follow today, we urge the government to match the ambitions shown by cities and county areas and ensure the benefits of devolution are extended to residents and businesses in all parts of the country.”

Did you enjoy this article?