Liverpool City Region agrees revolutionary devolution deal with government, including £900 million of government investment to boost the Merseyside economy.
Liverpool has become the latest city region to sign up to George Osborne’s devolution revolution, with local authority leaders set to sign a historic new deal today (17 November).
The agreement is another massive boost to the Northern Powerhouse with Liverpool City Region becoming the fifth major northern city region to sign up to a deal which will give its local leaders sweeping new powers. This follows recent deals signed with local leaders in Greater Manchester; Sheffield City Region, the North East and Tees Valley. A deal is also set to be signed today with the West Midlands – the first region outside of the Northern Powerhouse to do so.
Communities Minister Greg Clark and Commercial Secretary to the Treasury Jim O’Neill are set to sign the agreement alongside local leaders today in Liverpool.
Voters will now choose a directly elected Mayor in 2017, who will take on a raft of new powers as part of plans to take power out of Whitehall and hand it back to local people. This includes power over local transport budgets and franchised bus services and increased responsibility over employment support and skills provision.
This deal also includes control over investment worth £30 million a year for the next 30 years. A total of £900 million will help unlock the huge economic potential of the iconic River Mersey and the new Superport as well as maximising the opportunities from HS2.
The deal also includes support for Liverpool’s strengths in attracting major international events, with backing for the city’s International Festival for Business as well as its cultural attractions, with plans to establish a sustainable business model for National Museums Liverpool.
Chancellor George Osborne said:
Today is a historic day for the Liverpool City Region and a historic day for the Northern Powerhouse. This revolutionary deal cements the area’s position as a gateway to the north, from North Wales all the way to Newcastle, and gives local people control over their own affairs for the first time.
In becoming the fifth northern city region to take on these new powers, the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse is now simply unstoppable and I want to thank the Council leaders for working together to come to an agreement which will give Liverpool City Region a powerful new voice in national life.
Communities Minister Greg Clark said:
This One Nation government is determined to ensure power is devolved from Whitehall to local people, to put an end to the old north-south divide and rebalance our economy.
This Liverpool City Region deal demonstrates how local leaders are embracing this opportunity to have a direct hand in shaping the future of their area, whether in skills, transport or housing.
It’s vital that the people of the Liverpool city region – and the Northern Powerhouse as a whole – have the best possible representation on the national and international stage.
Councillor Phil Davies, Chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, said:
The local authority Leaders and the Mayor of Liverpool have negotiated collectively with the government on this devolution deal.
I believe that it is the best deal we can secure at this time for the benefit of the Liverpool City Region. Each respective Council will be meeting on Thursday 19 November 2015 and I hope that – like me – my colleagues will be recommending that their authorities agree the deal.
The new, directly elected Liverpool City Region Mayor will act as Chair to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and will exercise the following powers and functions devolved from central government:
- responsibility for a devolved and consolidated local 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 the Combined Authority
- powers over strategic planning, including the responsibility to create a Single Statutory City Region Framework, a Mayoral Development Corporation and to develop with government a Land Commission and a Joint Assets Board for economic assets
The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, working with the Liverpool City Region Mayor, will receive the following powers:
- control of a £30 million a year funding allocation over 30 years, to be invested in the Liverpool City Region Single Investment Fund, to unlock the economic potential of the River Mersey and Superport as well as maximise the opportunities from HS2
- responsibility for chairing an area-based review of 16+ skills provision, the outcomes of which will be taken forward in line with the principles of the devolved arrangements, 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
- building on the success of International Festival for Business (IFB) 2014 and the proposals for IFB 2016, Liverpool City Region and the government, and in particular UKTI and the GREAT Britain campaign, will continue engagement to establish IFB Liverpool as a vital feature of the international business calendar in 2018 and 2020
To support the development of the Liverpool City Region, the government will offer 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 Liverpool City Region will engage with the government to explore options around a sustainable and viable business model for National Museums Liverpool.
HM Government will work with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to agree specific funding flexibilities after the Spending Review.
Image by Neil Howard on Flickr. Used under creative commons.