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Cornwall devolution deal confirmed

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Details of Cornwall’s devolution deal, which includes control of the county’s health and social care budgets and more than £400m of EU funding, have been announced this morning.

The deal, which was exclusively revealed by LGC two weeks ago, is the first such agreement with a rural authority and does not include an elected mayor.

In a statement Cornwall Council said it would now work with the Council of the Isles of Scilly, NHS Kernow, and NHS England to “move progressively towards the integration of health and social care”.

Other elements of the deal include giving Cornwall the power to franchise bus services and £50m to create an integrated smart ticketing system for public transport in the county. Local leaders will also now get to decide how £422m of European funding should be spent on projects in the area instead of civil servants in Westminster.

Cornwall will also work with the government on proposals to improve employment and skills opportunities by redesigning training and learning provision, improving careers advice, and developing new apprenticeship opportunities. National and local business support services are to be integrated.

The statement said the government had agreed to support Cornwall’s bid to “develop geothermal energy production”, while funding streams for flood defences are to be combined to provide a pot of money to improve coastal defences. Proposals will also be developed around the use of public assets.

Cornwall Council’s leader John Pollard (Ind) said it was the “first stage of a longer journey” on working towards getting government to agree to all of the demands included in the ‘Case for Cornwall’ devolution proposals.

Cllr Pollard said: “We will now be working with partners to develop an integrated health and social care system, and deliver significant economic growth, with enhanced business support, greater access to employment and training opportunities, together with a much improved public transport network and more efficient use of public sector buildings.”

Dr Iain Chorlton, chair of NHS Kernow, said: “This is a significant milestone as we work towards our shared ambition of integrating health and social care, empowering local communities to have greater ownership of decisions and resources, tailored to local needs.

“Our innovative approaches in integrating health and social care are already making a difference to people’s lives, and today’s announcement could enable more resources to focus directly on local patient care and outcomes.”

Prime minister David Cameron and communities secretary Greg Clark are expected in Cornwall today to sign the agreement.

In a statement Mr Cameron said: “This devolution deal marks a major shift for the people who live and work in Cornwall, putting power in their hands and giving them the tools to take charge and make the most of the fantastic potential that Cornwall holds.”

Detailed plans as to how the deal will be implemented will now be developed.

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