New ‘county deals’ will help devolve power to local communities beyond England’s biggest cities, the Prime Minister has said in a keynote speech on the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda.
Non-metropolitan areas will be offered the same powers as combined authority mayors over things such as transport, skills and economic support, to help create jobs, drive growth and improve public services.
Boris Johnson said there would not be a one-size-fits-all template; individual counties could have directly elected mayors, or powers could be devolved for a specific local purpose, such as improving bus services.
Further details are expected in the autumn, in a Levelling Up White Paper.
Cllr James Jamieson, LGA Chairman, said: “Over the past decade, England has taken steps towards greater devolution, but areas outside the city regions have remained stuck in the ‘devolution slow lane’ and the UK remains one of the most centralised countries in the democratic world.
“The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the strength of councils’ local leadership and the benefits that come from national and local government working together in partnership.
“As we look towards securing a recovery that works for all, now is the right time to bring forward an ambitious new devolution settlement that gives councils the powers and funding they need to address regional inequality, tackle concentrations of deprivation and make towns and communities across England attractive places to live, work and visit.
“We support the Prime Minister’s refreshed commitment to turbo-charge this agenda, and we look forward to working with councils and government to make this ambition a reality.”