Following Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement that the Greater Lincolnshire region will get a directly elected mayor from 2017, partner councils have compiled a list of answers to all the questions you may have on the devolution deal:
What is devolution?
The government is offering places in England the chance to have greater responsibility and control over decisions and spending in their region. This process of transferring powers and decisions usually taken by central government to a regional level is called devolution.
How do things currently work?
Most spending decisions affecting the Greater Lincolnshire area are made by central government. Many of the taxes raised locally flow back to central government for it to redistribute as it sees fit.
Why would places want to have more powers and responsibilities from central government?
- To work together across services and use local knowledge to get better value for money
- To be more self-sufficient and have more responsibility for the future of the local area
- For decisions to be taken by locally elected politicians working with private sector partners on the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs)
How do places get these powers and responsibilities?
- Be part of a joint body with other places where decisions about these things would be taken. This is called a ‘combined authority’
- Have an elected mayor who would have responsibility over the powers and resources gained through a deal
- Have an agreed arrangement by all the places involved, as well as central government
What is a LEP?
LEPs (Local Enterprise Partnerships) are business-led partnerships of local businesses, local authorities and other partners to promote economic growth across a specific area.
They are overseen by the Secretaries of State for Business Innovation & Skills, and Communities & Local Government.
LEPs can bid for funding from government through ‘Growth Deals’.
What is a combined authority?
Combined authorities are statutory bodies within which local authorities work together to deliver economic development, regeneration and transport functions.
Doesn’t this just create an extra tier of government?
The combined authority cabinet is expected to be formed by the existing leaders of the ten constituent local authorities and chaired by the directly elected mayor.
How will I benefit?
Because the combined authority is locally accountable, it should be motivated to deliver specifically to the people of Greater Lincolnshire. In addition, money should be spent in ways that respond directly to the needs of the population.
What will happen to local council services?
There will be no impact on councils as a result of devolution as the new authority will have no responsibility for existing services.
What will the mayor and the combined authority do?
The mayor will exercise the following powers and functions devolved from central government:
- Responsibility for a devolved multi-year local transport budget for the area of the combined authority
- Ability to franchise bus services, which will support the combined authority’s delivery of integrated ticketing across the combined authority’s councils
- Oversight of a new Joint Investment and Assets Board to review all public sector land and property assets and help unlock land for housing and employment
- Ability to make proposals to help take forward large developments or new settlements
The new Greater Lincolnshire Combined Authority, working with the mayor, will receive the following powers:
- Control of a new additional £15 million a year funding allocation over 30 years, to be invested to boost growth; this is new money specifically for growth projects.
- Responsibility for developing a strategic infrastructure delivery plan which will identify the infrastructure needed to support the increased delivery of new homes
- Responsibility for chairing an area-based review of 16+ skills provision and devolved 19+ adult skills funding from 2018-19
- To help tackle long-term unemployment in Greater Lincolnshire, the combined authority will feed into the national design of the new Work and Health Programme
- To move with the government and local criminal justice partners towards a co-commissioning arrangement for services for Greater Lincolnshire offenders serving short sentences
- To work with the government, Police and Crime Commissioners, local prison governors and the Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC) to allow more local flexibility with other local services
- To contribute to the outcomes from the Water Resources Study and the objectives set out in the resulting Greater Lincolnshire LEP’s Water Management Plan
- Government will work with the Greater Lincolnshire Combined Authority to agree specific funding flexibilities. The joint ambition will be to give the Greater Lincolnshire Combined Authority a single pot to invest in its economic growth.
How will the new mayor work?
The mayor will chair the combined authority, the members of the CA will make up the mayor’s cabinet.
- The cabinet will also examine the mayor’s spending plans and will be able to amend his/her plans, if two thirds of the constituent members agree to do so
- The mayor will have one vote on the CA as will other voting members
- The mayor will be a member of the Local Enterprise Partnership, alongside the other members of the CA
What if the mayor wants to do things that local leaders don’t agree with?
The mayor will need to consult her/his cabinet on their strategies and spending plans and her/his cabinet will have powers to reject decisions (if two thirds agree to do so).
Who will oversee the mayor and what powers will they have?
The mayor will be held to account by voters (elections every four or five years) and the Greater Lincolnshire Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The democratically elected leaders of the Greater Lincolnshire Combined Authority will be able to amend and veto the mayor’s budget and strategies with a two-thirds majority.
There will be five yearly ‘gateway assessments’ by government (HM Treasury) to look at the impact of investments in the economy.
Who will get to vote for the mayor?
Residents of Greater Lincolnshire will get to vote for the mayor in 2017.
How much will the mayor be paid?
No figures have been determined. There are no direct comparisons in existence yet.
Is this an end-point for devolution or is there the chance to get more powers?
Greater Lincolnshire will continue to negotiate for further powers and will ask the public about things they may wish to see local control over.
Watch The Lincolnite‘s interview with City of Lincoln Council Leader Ric Metcalfe following the news funding and powers would be devolved to the partnership of local authorities.