The Sheffield City Region has agreed to adopt a directly elected mayor in return for more devolved powers.
In an extension to it’s original devolution deal agreed last December, the region will get a wide-range of controls and responsibilities aimed at boosting its economy.
LGC revealed on Wednesday how the Sheffield City Region – which is made up of Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham MBCs, and Sheffield City Council as full members, while Bassetlaw, Bolsover, Derbyshire Dales and North East Derbyshire DCs, Chesterfield BC are non-constituent members – was on the cusp of concluding a devolution deal with the Treasury. A devolution deal for the north-east, also including an elected mayor, is expected to be announced next week, LGC understands.
The Sheffield City Region’s devolution deal is the first agreement to be announced after 38 proposals from across the UK were submitted to the government ahead of chancellor George Osborne’s devolution deadline of 4 September.
Under the terms of the deal the directly elected mayor, who will be elected for the first time in 2017, will act as the chair of the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority.
Specifically, the mayor will be responsible for bus services, the delivery of a smart ticketing system, and the region’s transport budget with a multi-year settlement set to be agreed at the spending review on 25 November. They will also be given powers over strategic planning.
At a combined authority level, leaders will get to control a pot of money worth up to £900m over 30 years which will be used to boost local growth and invest in local manufacturing and innovation.
Members of the combined authority will also oversee a review of 16+ skills provisions and get control of funding for 19+ adults skills funding from 2018-19.
Joint responsibility with the government over the co-design of a successor to the work programme is also being handed to the combined authority.
Sir Stephen Houghton (Lab), chair of the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority, said: “This proposal marks the next step on our devolution journey and will enable local leaders to make bigger and better local decisions over skills, business growth and infrastructure.”
Mr Osborne said the deal showed the Sheffield City Region was “forging ahead in the northern powerhouse” and added the agreement showed that Greater Manchester, which has also agreed to adopt an elected mayor in return for wide-ranging powers, was “not a one-off”.
“In becoming the second great northern city to sign up to managing its own affairs with this ambitious agreement, [the] Sheffield City Region is playing a vital part in helping to build the northern powerhouse,” he said.
Further powers may be agreed over time and included in future legislation, the government said.
Alexandra Jones, chief executive of the think tank Centre for Cities, said today’s announcement would “increase the pressure” on other cities to agree a deal with the government ahead of the spending review or they would “risk falling further behind if they fail to do so”.
She added the devolution deals for Greater Manchester and the Sheffield City Region were still dependent on the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill being successfully passed through parliament in the next few months.
This story was updated at 13:22 to correct the fact the Sheffield City Region will get control of pot of money worth up to £900m over 30 years instead of £300m as previously stated.