The Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has today announced that the Government is close to finalising a ground-breaking Devolution Deal that will transfer a range of new powers and funding from Whitehall to Devon and Torbay.
Levelling Up Minister, Jacob Young, wrote to Leaders of Devon County Council and Torbay Council last week, confirming the Government’s commitment to continuing negotiations, and praising the councils on their ‘constructive leadership on the devolution agenda’.
And in his Autumn Statement today, Mr Hunt reiterated the government’s commitment to devolving powers to county areas, with the Chancellor confirming that it is in advanced discussions to agree a Level 2 non-mayoral deal with Devon and Torbay.
The proposed Deal promises to bring greater local control plus transferring new and existing Government funding to Devon and Torbay to help tackle key local priorities, including the shortage of affordable housing; a need for new training and retraining opportunities; improved coordination of public transportation; and the need for more investment to support local business, green jobs, and to increase productivity and pay.
The Government has chosen Devon and Torbay as one of only a small number of local authority areas in the country to form a Combined County Authority (CCA), and will not require an elected Mayor, nor the creation of a new unitary authority.
The new powers would be devolved to a proposed CCA partnership comprising Councillors representing the councils of Devon and Torbay, including District Councils, and representatives from business and education.
Together, the partnership would deliver on a jointly agreed programme, working alongside a wide range of other local stakeholders, to tackle key local priorities.
Leader of Devon County Council, John Hart, said:
“The prospect of finalising a Deal is hugely significant. It will put Devon and Torbay in a new and very different relationship with Government, one where we will have a stronger voice in Whitehall and an ability to influence policy for the benefit of our residents, communities, and businesses.
“This is just the beginning of new opportunities that we can build on.
“Significant Government funding and powers devolved locally will enable us as a partnership to make a real difference to people’s lives in ways that matter most to them – using our new powers to deliver more affordable and social housing by our District Councils, promoting green economic growth, creating skilled jobs and training opportunities, and providing better public transport.”
Councillor David Thomas, Leader of Torbay Council said:
“We welcome this announcement today which shows another positive step forward by Government for Torbay and Devon and our joint Deal.
“I am confident that this Deal will bring positive benefits for our residents and businesses, giving Torbay and Devon a stronger voice within Government on future investment and policy which is vital to the prosperity of our communities. I believe that there are real opportunities from working together on areas like improving skills, growing our economy and transport and other key priorities across Torbay and Devon.”
Details of the proposed Deal will be considered by the Devon County Council and Torbay Council Cabinets in the coming weeks, followed by a public consultation on the proposal to create a Combined County Authority, which would have responsibility for any powers devolved from Whitehall.