Devo-debate: Wish-List Submitted

Yorkshire councils have submitted a list of ‘asks’ to government following in the latest stage of the devolution debate.

If the Government agrees to the 27-point wish-list, Yorkshire could gain substantial powers over transport, education and skills, and other areas that could boost economic development.

Leeds Council Leader Judith Blake says she would be “very disappointed” if the wish-list is not agreed to.

Councils are asking for more control over local spending, specifically asking to retain 100 per cent of all new business rates.

If you don’t ask…here’s the 27-point wish-list:

1. Control of a 10-year infrastructure precept, which is exempt from the Council Tax capping regime to deliver major new investments such as a world class metro style public transport network that is HS2 and HS3 ready. The ability to raise our own finances has been reinforced by the recent postponement of the electrification on the Transpennine rail route (the ability to generate local investment finance for infrastructure has been discussed since the City Deal and at that time was linked to a potential change in governance beyond Combined Authorities).

2. Responsibility for a devolved and consolidated transport budget, with a multi-year settlement to be agreed at Spending Reviews.

3. Enterprise Zone / Tax Increment Financing status for major developments at growth areas around principal transport hubs, including Leeds South Bank, York Central, Bradford City Centre, Wakefield, Huddersfield and Halifax, as well as any new wider area based Enterprise Zones that may be established in areas such as in the Colne Valley, Dewsbury and Harrogate.

4. Responsibility for franchised bus services (subject to the Buses Bill) to secure access to ‘fare box’ revenues, and for integrating simple smart ticketing across all local modes of transport.

5. Devolved ownership of local rail stations, with associated maintenance budgets.

6. Devolved powers, responsibility and maintenance budgets for a locally defined strategic highways network (including initially the M621 and M606), including new traffic management powers such as moving traffic enforcement.

7. A Memorandum of Understanding with the Highways Agency with regards to traffic management and emergency management on the M62.

8. Responsibility for managing European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) in the same way as London.

9. Responsibility for a strategic infrastructure investment plan to direct infrastructure investment priorities which will provide long term confidence to those wishing to invest in the City Region.

10. Control of a new £500+ million LCR Housing and Regeneration Investment Fund, including a fiscally neutral transferred £350m revolving loan facility.

11. To be the Governments delivery agency (potentially via a Land Commission arrangement similar to London) to ensure assets are used and disposed of in a way that supports growth and regeneration, to include local assets, such as those belonging to HCA, Network Rail, Highways England, NHS; and other Public Assets not currently controlled by the HCA.

12. Powers to incentivise developers to bring forward strategic sites and prevent land banking; and to bring empty listed building back into use.

13. To adopt the powers of the Police and Crime Commissioner and explore potential oversight of other blue light and Criminal Justice services including the Courts and Probation to support interoperability and protect the frontline.

14. Retention of 100% of the local growth in business rates.

15. Powers to levy a Supplementary Business Rate to invest in major strategic infrastructure in a similar way to the London Crossrail scheme.

16. Responsibility for regional education advisory services, innovation funds for kinship care, family group conferencing and multi-agency interventions to put children and young people at the heart of the economic growth strategy.

17. Powers to drive the improvement of careers advice and schools and for local authorities to intervene in failing academy schools deemed by Ofsted to be failing.

18. Control of Further Education (FE) capital and revenue budgets (including 16-18 provision) and powers to reshape and re-structure local appropriate skills provision that is responsive to the needs of employers, including giving priority for a new National College facility and the approval and development of new vocational education facilities.

19. Devolved budgets for employer-led skills investment, to allow our joined up skills brokerage service to help more employers offer Apprenticeships.

20. Responsibility for devolved and integrated business support budgets, building on the LEP’s growth hub, including the resources for Growth Accelerator, Manufacturing Advice Service (MAS), Innovate UK and UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) Export Advice. Joint responsibility for HEFCE investment in local economic partnership activity in Higher Education (HE) including HE Catalyst, knowledge exchange (HEIF). This will build on the Memorandum of Understanding already in place with the City Region Universities.

21. Allocation of a significant share of national investment for global R&D facilities on a par with the Crick Institute, to accelerate our Northern Powerhouse research and SME commercial strengths in digital health innovation and innovative manufacturing; work with the City Region to relocate a Research Council to our area.

22. Secure ring fenced UKTI resource on inward investment and sector specialists, and deliver culture, arts and tourism through oversight of devolved funding held by Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund.

23. Responsibility for budgets, including DCMS/BDUK, to deliver ultrafast broadband connectivity and further develop the market beyond that provided by BT.

24. Control of a programme that extends the successful Troubled Families model of joined-up public services to other high cost groups like people with complex needs such as drug dependency, worklessness and mental health.

25. Devolve DWP national programmes and budgets targeted at addressing worklessness (currently the Work Programme).

26. Responsibility for local energy generation and efficiency.

27. Responsibility for flood defence capital investment through devolved DEFRA and Environment Agency powers and budgets.

22 July, T&A, CEO Opinion Column concerns on devolution