The Greater Manchester devolution deal is being used as a model for new agreements currently under negotiation. LGC takes a look at how it compares to the other deals that have been agreed so far
Sheffield City Region
Announced: December 2014
Sheffield City Council, Bassetlaw, Bolsover, Derbyshire Dales, and North East Derbyshire DCs, Chesterfield BC and Barnsley and Rotherham MBCs.
The Sheffield City Region devolution deal matches many elements with Devo Manc, such as on skills.
Like Greater Manchester, the deal would give the combined authority the opportunity to commission jointly further education. Control of the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers is devolved fully.
The Sheffield deal offers far less control over delegated powers than the one in Manchester, however.
For example, there is only a commitment to examine the possibility of commissioning the work programme jointly and to “explore” options for handing the Sheffield City Region “more control over planning and delivery of a devolved transport scheme”. This seems a long way from the devolved multi-year budget that Manchester expects.
This difference reflects the less developed history of joint working in the area and the refusal of local leaders to consider an elected mayor at the time the deal was agreed last December.
In other areas Sheffield is leading the way, however. One aspect of its deal is government backing for the development of a partnership arrangement with the region’s bus operators. This aims to ensure routes align with the region’s economic priorities while keeping fares affordable.
This arrangement is due to go live in Sheffield in November and could be used as a model by the Department for Transport. Its delivery could stand the city region in good stead for devolution deals currently under negotiation.
Leeds City Region
Authorities involved: Kirklees, Wakefield. Kirklees, Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale MBCs, Leeds and York City Council, Selby and Craven DCs, and Harrogate BC
Announced: March 2015
The Leeds City Region devolution deal was branded “disappointing” and “nothing more than pre-election window dressing” by one of its chief negotiators when announced.
Peter Box, chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and leader of Wakefield MBC, said was “limited in its ambitions” and was “decentralisation rather than devolution”
The refusal to consider a metro mayor had already led the combined authority to drop its demands for fiscal devolution after talks stalled late last year.
The deal that eventually emerged almost the scope of the one in Sheffield: it includes agreement to commission jointly further education, devolution of the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers and local influence on the provision of business support services.
There is also a commitment that the Department for Work and Pensions will consider co-commissioning the work programme and a vague promise of more influence with Highways England and Network Rail.
As in Manchester and Sheffield, the deal is seen locally as a first stage with hopes of greater power.
The 27 asks that form part of its next bid for a deal include a number of elements seen in the Greater Manchester agreement, such as a multi-year consolidated transport budget, franchised bus services and a multi-million pound housing investment fund.
Authorities involved: Cornwall
Announced: 1 July.
The only, non-urban devolution deal is also the most recently agreed.
The deal includes some features common to Greater Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds deals, including a commitment from the government to work with Cornwall to redesign further education provision and integrate business support services – as well as some low-level commitments specific to Cornwall.
It also involves an agreement that Cornwall would be granted intermediate body status, allowing the council and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership to decide how £422m of European Union funding is spent.
The Greater Manchester Combined Authority has since sought and won agreement that it also be granted intermediate body status and allowed to control the spending of a £300m pot of EU money.
While Cornwall is the only local authority involved in the deal and it does not include a mayor, the chairs of the LEP and Kernow CCG are also signatories.
Like Greater Manchester, Cornwall agreed devolution of health and social care but on a much smaller scale. Cornwall’s agreement covers its single council area and does not include any commitment from NHS England to devolve budgets for the most specialised services.
This raises the question of what a devolution deal will add that could not have been done anyway.
Plans to create a single integrated commissioning budget for older people could probably have been done regardless. However, the deal may provide the focus that helps the area achieve its integration aspiration.