Liverpool City Region continues devolution dialogue
Liverpool City Region Combined Authority today discussed the scope of a potential devolution deal with Government and the benefits it could bring for the city region.
The objectives of any submission are to:
• Accelerate economic growth – growing jobs and increasing productivity
• Reform public services locally to reduce costs and improve outcomes
• Improve the lives and health and wellbeing of local residents by making better use of existing resources and attracting more
Members were mindful of the opportunities any deal could bring in terms of having more influence and control over mainstream Government money spent within the city region but currently decided in Westminster and Whitehall rather than in the city region. Examples of such budgets include:
• Economic development
• Skills and employment
• Housing and planning
• Business support
• Health and social care
Today’s meeting was the latest in a number of meetings to pave the way for a devolution bid to Government which would need to be submitted by 4th September. If a bid is submitted, it is expected that the proposals would be discussed in detail with the Government over the autumn, during which time the extent of devolution on offer would become clearer.
Today’s discussion also included a clear commitment to structured engagement with stakeholders, businesses and the public following the submission of a bid.
Members were keen to emphasise that the shape of any deal is about drawing additional powers, control and resources down from London rather than taking sovereignty away from existing local authorities. Members were also clear that any actual agreement with Government would require the approval of individual Councils with appropriate consultation processes put in-place. No agreement would be reached if Government did not commit to transfer sufficient powers to make devolution worthwhile and no deal could be reached if Councils were not enabled to make the final decision.
Councillor Phil Davies, Chair of Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Leader of Wirral Council said: “I am pleased that we are making extremely good progress in developing the list of ‘asks’ from Central Government.
“This is a journey that we are on together as a City Region which could lead to us gaining significant control over resources currently decided by anonymous officials in Whitehall who know little, if anything, about our area.
“I want people to understand that this is not about taking powers away local councils and other organisations – rather it is about us deciding how best to spend public money ourselves.
“Liverpool City Region is not like any other area of the country. It has its own unique opportunities and challenges, and that is why it is so absolutely vital that funding decisions are made locally and not dictated nationally.”
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “It is only once we know how much government is willing to devolve to the city region that we will be able to decide whether or not it is something that we want to accept.
“For many decades, local government has had powers taken away from it by Whitehall, and we now have an opportunity to turn the tide. Making decisions on key services and priorities locally is much better than London deciding the destiny of the city region.”