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Exclusive: Treasury minister sets criteria for devo deals

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Ministers will only consider “strong” and “credible” proposals for devolution deals, once the impending September deadline for submissions has passed, a Treasury minister has indicated.

Lord O’Neill, in an exclusive comment piece for LGC, said he wants council leaders to “move quickly and ambitiously” to agree devolution deals before the cut-off date set by the chancellor.

The 4 September deadline had created a “whirr of activity” at the Treasury, according to Lord O’Neill, with officials and ministers kept busy informing authorities “what might or might not work” in their areas.

He hailed a “seismic shift” in the way local authorities related to each other, spurred by chancellor George Osborne’s offer to pass power and control to councils.

“Take West Midlands, where once the idea of local councils across this region working towards a combined authority seemed unthinkable. It is now a reality,” he said.

As reported by LGC in June, seven metropolitan boroughs across the region have put aside their differences to establish a “combined authority” for their devolution bid.

The commercial secretary to the Treasury, Lord O’Neill said he wanted to help create  “strong, interconnected urban areas” outside of London, modelled on countries like China and the US.

“We are…encouraging places to move quickly and ambitiously to agree devolution deals with us with those who want to be first in line submitting their proposals…by 4 September if they want to do a deal by the time of the spending review,” his comment piece states.

“We will, however, of course consider submissions from all places that have strong, credible proposals after the spending review too.”

Lord O’Neill’s full comment can be read here.

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