New laws come into force today (28 January 2016) paving the way for the most radical decentralisation of power in generations.
The devolution revolution is already in full swing with local leaders up in the North East and Tees Valley all the way down to Cornwall in the South West having signed landmark agreements with government.
The Cities and Local Government Devolution Act, which receives Royal Assent today, paves the way for the creation of metro mayors and the handing down of powers so local leaders can be in control of their own affairs.
It comes as Prime Minister David Cameron announces a separate Aberdeen city region deal – extending the government’s commitment to devolution north of the border.
The Northern Powerhouse has been leading the way following the trailblazing Greater Manchester deal, and subsequent deals in Liverpool City Region, Tees Valley, the North East and Sheffield City Region. Local leaders in 5 northern areas will now see new powers handed to them from Westminster, alongside their counterparts in the West Midlands and Cornwall.
Chancellor to the Exchequer George Osborne said:
Our devolution revolution is the most fundamental shake up of the way the country is governed in a generation, and these new laws are a clear signal of our commitment to end the old model of running everything out of London.
Fixing the current broken system of financing local government will be a huge boost to local growth, help attract business and create jobs. It’s the most concerted effort to change the geographical imbalance that has bedevilled the British economy for half a century.
Civic leaders are seizing this opportunity, with 7 historic deals already agreed across the country. Local people will get the power to make decisions locally on the issues that affect them.
Local Government Secretary Greg Clark said:
Today’s new laws pave the way to devolve powers from the heart of Westminster to local areas and local people across the country.
It underpins radical devolution deals already in place, but also opens the door for others to follow the example and come forward with their own proposals for having a far greater say over how their area develops over the coming years.
Northern Powerhouse Minister James Wharton said:
Building a Northern Powerhouse is central to our plans to rebalance the economy and we have changed the law to make this happen.
Giving more power to local leaders is only the first step and we will continue to help, creating jobs through major investments in transport, science and innovation in order to make the north even more of a magnet for business and talent than it is today.
New powers for local areas
The Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill featured in the government’s first Queen’s Speech and is one of the first pieces of legislation brought forward which underlines the importance of the devolution agenda.
The Act will:
- pave the way for elected mayors to cover and chair a combined authority area
- allow the radical devolution of functions, including transport, health, skills, planning and job support
- enable the creation of sub-national transport bodies which will advise the government on strategic schemes and investment priorities in their own area.
Talks are currently underway with other local areas right across the country about what powers might be devolved to them.
Image by Stephen Tierney on Flickr used under creative commons.