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Gloucestershire seeks control of health budget in devolution deal

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Gloucestershire is seeking to take control of health and social care budgets and retain all its business rates growth across the region as part of a devolution deal.

The ambitious bid was submitted to communities secretary Greg Clark last week by the county council, six district authotities, its Clinical Commissioning Group, the GFirst Local Economic Partnership, Gloucestershire Constabulary and the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Leaders are seeking to conclude a deal in time for chancellor George Osborne’s spending review on 25 November.

In a statement of intent document called ‘We are Gloucestershire’, representatives from each of the organisations said a county-wide bid made Gloucestershire “uniquely placed” to take advantage of devolved powers.

“We have a significant advantage in Gloucestershire as the boundaries of our key organisations already match,” they said.

“We also have a single health and wellbeing board, with the majority of acute, community, mental health and social care services provided by three county-wide NHS Trusts, the county council and a single regional ambulance service.

“Gloucestershire is ready for devolution.”

Other proposals include taking control of the skills budget to help leaders to match education and skills provision to local business needs.

They also want to be able to manage the county’s public sector assets, and are seeking simplified decision-making powers on strategic planning, housing and infrastructure.

The bid does not propose an elected mayor.

Paul James (Con), leader of Gloucester City Council, told LGC there was “no appetite” for one and added: “There would have to be quite something [from government] to make us change that position. I hope that wouldn’t be something forced on us.”

In return for devolved powers, Gloucestershire believes it will stand a better chance of achieving its ambitions to build 47,000 new homes, create 34,000 jobs and 200 new businesses, and grow the economy by £500m a year by 2022.

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