London will receive a devolved adult education budget from 2019-20, the chancellor Philip Hammond has announced.
The capital will receive the devolved power “subject to readiness conditions”, according to the Treasury’s autumn statement document, published today.
Other areas have already secured devolution of skills powers as part of devolution deals. These are: Tees Valley, West Yorkshire, Sheffield City Region, Liverpool City Region, West Midlands, Greater Manchester, the North East, and Cornwall.
The document also confirmed that the Greater London Authority will receive an affordable housing settlement of £3.15bn to deliver 90,000 homes starting in 2020-21.
The Treasury reiterated in the document that London will also receive a budget for delivering the work and health programme, and that it would “continue to work with London to explore further devolution of powers over the coming months”.
Tom Stannard, deputy spokesperson for skills for the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Managers, said the devolution of the budget to London “seems positive in principle, based on other areas benefiting from devolution of powers”.
However Mr Stannard, who is also director of economy and skills at Oldham MBC, added: “What is needed is a consistent approach to devolution and restructuring of the adult education budget, not a piecemeal approach seeing one area followed by another.
“The key thing is that the dwindling public investment in skills, represented by the adult education budget, is best used to leverage wider employer and individual investment in skills and training suited to business requirements.
“The adult education budget itself will only pay for a fraction of this training requirement, whoever actually controls the budget.”
London Councils chair Claire Kober (Lab), said: “Over the past few months we’ve been pushing the Treasury hard on devolution, emphasising the urgency of powers being transferred locally, so we can generate the inclusive economic growth that London and the rest of the UK so desperately needs.
“We’re pleased that the chancellor has now recognised our arguments and has indicated in today’s autumn statement that he intends to give us greater control over housing delivery, employment support and adult education. But we have clearly not reached our destination, this is very much one step on the journey and we will continue to press for devolution to move faster and go further.”
On housing, Lewisham mayor Steve Bullock (Lab) said: “Today’s announcement is an extremely positive step in the right direction. London Councils has made clear there is a desperate need for thousands more homes, of a range of tenures, to be built. This specific cash injection for affordable homes will allow the Mayor of London, boroughs and other partners to carry out and extend ambitious plans to properly tackle the capital’s housing crisis.
“London Councils will continue to make the case for boroughs to be given the tools they need to meet the huge challenges they face. Councils are pulling their weight by granting planning permission for tens of thousands of houses across a range of tenures each year. However, the completion rates for housing remain low, and ministers still need to work with boroughs, the GLA and developers to ensure permitted housing is built out in the city – and that the government’s housing policy works for all Londoners.”
Read more about the autumn statement announcements and what they mean for the sector by clicking on the links below:
- New extended right-to-buy pilot raises questions over scheme
- Updated: Hammond floats £1bn for infrastructure spending
- New £1.1bn transport fund set for local roads
- Powerhouse strategy targets productivity
- New business rates reliefs worth £85m