Nine counties to begin negotiations on devolution deals as part of Levelling-Up White Paper

CCN Latest News, CCN News 2022 | 02 February 2022

Today the government is set to release its long-awaited Levelling-Up White Paper, and this morning has made a series of key announcements ahead of its official launch, including an invitation for nine county areas to begin negotiating devolution deals.

These announcements include an invitation for the first tranche of county areas to begin negotiations on devolution deals. These nine areas invited to begin negotiations are Cornwall, Derbyshire and Derby, Devon, Plymouth and Torbay, Durham, Hull and East Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Norfolk, Nottinghamshire and Nottingham, and Suffolk.

The government has also made a commitment that by 2030 every part of England that wants one will have a devolution deal with ‘powers at or approaching the highest level of devolution and a simplified, long-term funding settlement.’

Below, the County Councils Network provides an initial response to this morning’s announcements. The network will provide further comment once the white paper is published later today.

Cllr Tim Oliver, Chairman of the County Councils Network, said:

“The announcement of the first nine county devolution deals has placed county authorities and their areas at the heart of their levelling up agenda. The government’s commitment to county devolution deals, crystallised in the Levelling Up White Paper, is a game-changer for the effectiveness of local government. .

“The County Councils Network (CCN) has been at the forefront of making the case for an ambitious programme of devolution, built on a new devolution framework. This is an important departure from previous approaches to devolution, and provides a framework for those councils to work with local partners on securing devolved powers for their communities.

“Looking ahead, the government should build on its substantive progress. There should be no let-up in the momentum and it is essential that every county in England has the opportunity to benefit from a devolution deal, and the levelling-up levers they include, before the end of this Parliament. Moreover, counties must also receive a fair share of additional funding, on par with regional investment provided to the mayors in the cities.

“Whilst we await further detail in the Levelling Up White Paper, it is critical that county councils and unitary authorities are placed in driving seat of making these deals a success, with powers directly devolved to those councils. However, many of our member councils are yet to be convinced that adopting a directly elected mayor model provides any greater degree of accountability or stability compared to the existing leader and cabinet model. CCN will continue to engage government on this issue and support its member councils as they put forward substantive proposals to turn ambitions commitments into reality on the ground.”