The Deputy Prime Minister is today (Friday 12 December) in Sheffield to confirm a city devolution deal which will shift power from Whitehall to the combined authorities locally, giving the city greater control over transport, skills, housing and business support. This historic deal for Sheffield will allow the city to introduce ‘oyster-style’ travel cards, and local councils and businesses will have control over the majority of the skills budget for the area for the first time.
He is confirming greater powers for Sheffield a month after the Northern Futures Summit, which brought together local people and businesses to share their vision for strengthening the economy in the region. The deal does not impose any specific form of governance over the city, such as a metro mayor.
The deal builds on the success of the City Deal and Growth Deal already agreed for the Sheffield City Region, which began the journey that sees the people of Sheffield put in charge of their own economic destiny.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:
It’s a historic moment for the great city of Sheffield, and I’m pleased to be bringing more power to the people of Sheffield today, after I’ve pushed for greater devolution to the North through my Northern Futures programme for so long.
Today’s deal will give council leaders clout to push forward local plans that strengthen the economy and the running of the city themselves, without waiting for Whitehall.
Putting the people of Sheffield in control of our city’s destiny will ensure local plans are in line with what local people want. From transforming travel across the city, to improving access to skills training, the deal will mean changes in the city are shaped by those who live there.
Gone are the days of central government controlling all local decisions, and I’m proud to be at the forefront of these forward-thinking changes that see cities like Sheffield able to grow as they see fit.
Details of the Sheffield deal
The deal for Sheffield marks a historic move, seeing the government support Sheffield City region to take greater control and lead on improvement and delivery of transport schemes:
- the opportunity for the city to roll-out ‘oyster-style’ smart ticketing on all local bus services
- the deal secures the future of the Sheffield to Rotherham Tram Train service, boosting funding and pushing forward introduction of the service
- making more decisions about preparation for HS2, improvements to roads and rail, giving council leaders potential to tackle troubled transport routes like the M1 Tinsley viaduct
- Sheffield City Region will lead discussions with Highways Agency and Network Rail, ensuring that investment decisions are in line with what local people need
Skills and employment
The city will be responsible for the majority of the Adult Skills Budget, working with the Skills Funding Agency and the Department for Work and Pensions to build a new skills system. The city will play a central role in:
- skilling people up, particularly in science and maths, to create strong candidates for manufacturing and engineering jobs in the city
- enabling businesses to take up and invest in more apprenticeships
It has seen 680 additional apprentices thanks to its City Deal scheme, and will now make sure even more businesses have the opportunity to benefit from an apprentice
The Department for Work and Pensions will also consult with Sheffield City region about the possibility of joint commissioning for the next phase of the Work Programme beginning in 2017.
Government will work more closely with Sheffield City Region on business support, locating national advisors alongside local staff and giving Sheffield City Region flexibility to give businesses the support they need.
From 2017 onwards:
- UKTI will become the principal partner with Sheffield City Region’s Export Centre of Expertise and work closely with the Local Enterprise Partnership to encourage more businesses to export
- Government and Sheffield City Region will work towards a solution that will allow the Yorkshire JEREMIE (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises) to continue on an interim basis
- Sheffield City Region will move towards a more devolved model of business support, with enterprise spending coming directly into the city region’s control
The deal will make the most of public sector land in the city region, owned both by councils and government. Decisions about which assets to sell, and how to regenerate some sites, will be taken together between local and national government to get the best deal for taxpayers and the local economy.
Government will also work with Sheffield to help speed up house building, by ensuring viable developments can access government funding more easily.