Devolution

Update – January 2017

Heart of the South West Productivity Plan launches in the week of national Industrial Strategy

Last week the Government launched its consultation, “Building our Industrial Strategy”, which aims to improve living standards and economic growth by increasing productivity and driving growth across the whole country.

This aligns with the Heart of the South West’s joint LEP and local authority-led Devolution Partnership’s Productivity Plan, which launches today, aiming to ensure that the Heart of the South West makes a significant contribution to the UK’s productivity growth.

This will see productivity improved locally to deliver real economic benefits for the residents and business community of our area.

The final Productivity Plan will be launched in the autumn and there will be further opportunities for feedback before then.

This first phase is to ask whether the Partnership is considering the right challenges and the responses will help to shape the draft plan.

At this stage the Partnership is not setting out proposals; these will be done at the next phase from spring.

During this period the Devolution partnership will also be gathering and publishing additional evidence to build a comprehensive picture.

Several themes of the national Industrial Strategy are directly relevant to the strengths and opportunities in the Heart of the South West, for example:

Helping young people to develop the skills they need to do the high-paid, high-skilled jobs of the future – central to the national industrial strategy and to our local aim to deliver rewarding careers, investing in science, research and innovation and highlighting the nuclear industry for a sector deal.

The recent South West England and South East Wales Science and Innovation Audit shows there are other sectors within Heart of the South West where a sector deal could be an opportunity for investment and new jobs.

The Heart of the South West has successfully grown employment in the years since the financial crisis and in some places now outperforms the strongest economies in Europe for the level of jobs.

However the LEP area ranks towards the lower end the LEP areas in England for the level of productivity, and productivity varies considerably within the LEP area.

Lower productivity means that on average it takes longer to produce the same goods or services than those economies with a higher level of productivity; and this translates to lower wages and longer hours worked.

The Productivity Plan will set out how we intend to address this challenge and will be our contribution to the UK’s Industrial Strategy.

It will form the basis of negotiations with Government for investment and devolved powers and will act as a focal point to consolidate local resources.

Heart of the South West Devolution lead and Leader of Somerset County Council, John Osman, said:

“This is an opportunity to put this region at heart of the Government’s economic strategy. With the right investment and strategic lead from the Devolution Partnership, we believe it has the potential to become an internationally important business location.

“This is the first stage of an important process in which public and private sector partners are working together to shape the economic prosperity of our area.”

Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, Steve Hindley said:

“The Heart of the South West LEP is working closely with our Local Authority-led Devolution partners to create a Productivity Plan that aligns with government strategy to leverage the maximum investment of resources and confidence in this area.

“We want to build a meaningful picture of what our business community wants to see from a Productivity Plan for this area, putting in place the measures that will deliver growth and prosperity for businesses and residents.”

The Heart of the South West Productivity Plan Consultation is available here.

Update – November 2016

Update – August 2016

Update – July 2016

Heart of the South West devolution partners to consider Combined Authority

Councils across Devon and Somerset have been reassured that their devolution proposals do not require an elected mayor.

At a recent summit meeting with council leaders, Local Government Secretary Greg Clark said Government would not impose an elected Mayor as part of any Heart of the South West (HotSW) Devolution Partnership deal.

New powers would instead be overseen by a Combined Authority consisting of representatives of Devon and Somerset county councils, Plymouth and Torbay councils, the 13 district councils in the two counties and Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks.

Leaders of the councils and partners have already backed the plan. Each authority will now be asked to formally sign-up to the principle of creating a Combined Authority which would allow the negotiations towards a deal to move forward.

Somerset County Council Leader John Osman said: “I’m delighted by the unanimous support amongst leaders of councils to take forward the proposal for a Combined Authority devolution deal.

“It is truly exciting to see how we can work together to deliver more for our residents in key areas like the economy, homes, health and social care.

“We will of course be following the national picture closely in the coming weeks and await clarification, but we do not anticipate the EU Referendum result having an impact on the progress of our proposals and all the partners are keen to move things forward.

“The next step will be for each council to formally approve the Combined Authority proposals. After that we will negotiate the finance, powers and responsibilities to be passed to us by central government before a final decision is made in the autumn.”

Councillors will hear that the Combined Authority would not take over any powers or funding from existing authorities and that they would have a say in the constitution and decision-making powers of the new body.

The HotSW Partnership has already submitted its ‘prospectus for productivity’ to the Government in a bid to win more powers to boost jobs and growth. The partnership says it wants a ‘devolution revolution’ to improve the lives of people in Devon and Somerset.

The prospectus was endorsed by every local authority in the two counties and they are now being asked to give the green light for more detailed negotiations with the Government.

Devon County Council Leader John Hart said: “I firmly believe, as local people, we can do things more effectively and more efficiently locally than being told what to do by London.

“This is the first time in my political lifetime that the Government has offered local government the opportunity to draw down powers like these.

“This could mean real power coming to the South West. This is a real opportunity for this council and other councils. We should be working together for the benefit of the people of Devon and the South West.”

Plymouth City Council Leader Ian Bowyer said: “The Secretary of State has given us a unique opportunity – to put forward proposals for powers to be devolved to us, without insisting that we have a directly elected mayor.

“It has to be in the best interests of the people that we serve to get the best possible deal we can negotiate on this basis.”

Torbay Council’s Mayor, Gordon Oliver, said: “It’s really important that all the local authorities agree on a way forward so we have a stable base to progress to the next stage of our devolution bid.”

The Local Enterprise Partnership’s Chair, Steve Hindley, said: “We are backing our local authority partners to secure the best deal for the Heart of the South West, and their aims for a Combined Authority.

“The business community, through the LEP, is working hand in hand with the elected Members across Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay to deliver this exciting Prospectus for Productivity which focuses on the ‘Golden Opportunities’ for transformational growth in the economy; which are closely aligned to the day to day work of the LEP in its inward investment and sector development activity.”

The partnership’s Prospectus for Productivity says the changes that are proposed would result in higher productivity and better-paid jobs, improved road, rail and broadband links and more homes for the region’s growing population.

There would be radical reforms to integrate health and social care to allow the ageing population to be better looked after, tailored support for growing businesses and the creation of a centre of excellence for skills development.

The devolution revolution would see more powers and finance devolved from Westminster to the region to close the productivity gap and allow local people to benefit from a thriving economy. Currently productivity in the South West is running at less than 80 per cent of the national average.

Update – May 2016

Update –  March 2016

Press Release issued by the Devolution Project Management Office – Thursday 3 March 2016:

Devo bid to boost prosperity for South West goes to Government

Council chiefs and business leaders in Devon and Somerset have submitted their ‘prospectus for productivity’ to the Government in a bid to win more powers to boost jobs and growth.

They say they want a ‘devolution revolution’ to improve the lives of people in Devon and Somerset.

The prospectus has been submitted to the Government after being separately endorsed by every local authority in the two counties.

They say the changes they propose would result in higher productivity and better-paid jobs, improved road, rail and broadband links and more homes for the region’s growing population.

There would be radical reforms to integrate health and social care to allow the ageing population to be better looked after, tailored support for growing businesses and the creation of a centre of excellence for skills development.

The submission of the bid follows months of concentrated work by council chiefs in Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay with 13 district councils, Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks, the local NHS and the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.

They want more powers and finance devolved from Westminster to the region so they can close the productivity gap and allow local people to benefit from a thriving economy.

Currently productivity in the South West is running at less than 80 per cent of the national average. But the document promises that, if local councils have greater freedom to act, by 2030 they will help deliver:

  • A £4 billion uplift to the economy
  • 163,000 new jobs
  • 179,000 more homes
  • Higher wage levels which are above the national average
  • Apprenticeship starts up by 400 per cent
  • Every young person in education, employment or training
  • A better qualified workforce
  • Faster, more reliable rail services with greater capacity
  • Faster road journeys with less congestion
  • 100 per cent superfast broadband coverage
  • A UK centre of excellence for skills development

The bid points out that the South West already has world-beating expertise in a number of significant areas such as knowledge-based skills in Exeter, marine industries in Plymouth, nuclear technology in Somerset and aerospace in Yeovil as well as its traditional industries like agriculture, fishing and tourism.
Somerset County Council leader John Osman said: “This is the culmination of a lot of hard work from a lot of people and to see a document like this endorsed by 23 authorities in such a short space of time is quite an achievement.

“The challenge now is to not lose the momentum. We have to make sure we are pushing our case with Westminster because this bid it about the future prosperity of the region, its businesses and communities and it’s paramount that we make the most of the opportunity.”

Plymouth City Council leader Tudor Evans said: “We lag behind the rest of the country in terms of productivity and need to act now to improve the opportunities for our young people, so that they have the right skills to get good high value jobs and grow their careers in this region, helping us all to become more prosperous.

“We also want to see more local people employed in some of the major opportunities coming our way. We are making the Government an offer they can’t refuse.”

Mr Evans said the bid proposed more growth than the three core cities of Birmingham, Bristol and Nottingham had delivered together over the last fifteen years.

Devon County Council leader John Hart said: “We are presenting a united front to the Government and saying this is our vision for our region, let’s negotiate on how you can help us to achieve it.

“I firmly believe, as local people, we can do things more effectively and more efficiently locally than being told what to do by London.

“This is the first time in my political lifetime that the Government has offered local government the opportunity to draw down powers like these.

“This could mean real power coming to the South West. This is a real opportunity for this council and other councils.

“We should be working together for the benefit of the people of Devon and the South West.”

Steve Hindley, Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Businesses across the Heart of the South West are the driving force that will deliver transformational growth and are keen to be at the helm of a prospective devolution deal alongside local authority partners.

“We look forward to working with Government and investors as we embark on this journey towards prosperity and increased productivity that will benefit not only the Heart of the South West but the UK economy as a whole.”
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Notes for Editors: The Heart of the South West devolution partners are:

  • Somerset County Council
  • Somerset’s district and borough councils: Mendip, Sedgemoor, South Somerset, Taunton Deane and West Somerset
  • Devon County Council
  • Devon’s district and borough councils: East Devon, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge and West Devon
  • Plymouth City Council
  • Torbay Council
  • Exeter City Council
  • Exmoor National Park
  • Dartmoor National Park
  • Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group
  • South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Heart of the South West LEP

Update – January 2016

Press Release Devon and Somerset bid for more powers to boost prosperity

Council chiefs and business leaders say they want a ‘devolution revolution’ to boost prosperity in Devon and Somerset.

They have agreed to submit a prospectus to Government that would result in higher productivity and better-paid jobs, improved road, rail and broadband links and more homes for the region’s growing population.

There would be radical reforms to integrate health and social care to allow the ageing population to be better looked after, tailored support for growing businesses and the creation of a centre of excellence for skills development.

The bid follows months of concentrated work by council chiefs in Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay with 13 district councils, Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks, the local NHS and the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.

They want more powers and finance devolved from Westminster to the region so they can close the productivity gap and allow local people to benefit from a thriving economy.

Currently productivity in the South West is running at less than 80 per cent of the national average.

But the document promises that, if local councils have greater freedom to act, by 2030 they will help deliver:

  • £4 billion uplift to the economy
  • 163,000 new jobs
  • 179,000 more homes
  • Higher wage levels which are above the national average
  • Apprenticeship starts up by 400 per cent
  • Every young person in education, employment or training
  • A better qualified workforce
  • Faster, more reliable rail services with greater capacity
  • Faster road journeys with less congestion
  • 100 per cent superfast broadband coverage
  • A UK centre of excellence for skills development

This is more growth than the three core cities of Birmingham, Bristol and Nottingham have delivered in total, together, over the last fifteen years.

The bid points out that the South West already has world-beating expertise in a number of significant areas such as knowledge-based skills in Exeter, marine industries in Plymouth, nuclear technology at Hinkley Point and aerospace in Yeovil as well as its traditional industries like agriculture, fishing and tourism.
Somerset County Council leader John Osman said: “This is a truly exciting opportunity for all the local authorities involved in this work. We have come together with the common aim of making the most of devolution for our residents and shared priorities around skills, employment and infrastructure.

“The bid reflects our pride in what the region has to offer and our ambitions for its future potential. I look forward to taking the next steps with colleagues from across the South West.”

Plymouth City Council leader Tudor Evans said: “We lag behind the rest of the country in terms of productivity and need to act now to improve the opportunities for our young people, so that they have the right skills to get good high value jobs and grow their careers in this region, helping us all to become more prosperous. We also want to see more local people employed in some of the major opportunities coming our way.

“We are making the Government an offer they can’t refuse.”

Devon County Council leader John Hart said: “We are presenting a united front to the Government and saying this is our vision for our region, let’s negotiate on how you can help us to achieve it.

“I firmly believe, as local people, we can do things more effectively and more efficiently locally than being told what to do by London.

“This is the first time in my political lifetime that the Government has offered local government the opportunity to draw down powers like these.

“This could mean real power coming to the South West. This is a real opportunity for this council and other councils and we would be foolish not to seize it.

“We should be working together for the benefit of the people of Devon and the South West.”

Steve Hindley, Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Businesses across the Heart of the South West are the driving force that will deliver transformational growth and are keen to be at the helm of a prospective devolution deal alongside local authority partners.

“We look forward to working with Government and investors as we embark on this journey towards prosperity and increased productivity, that will benefit not only the Heart of the South West but the UK economy as a whole.”

Ends
Notes for Editors:

The Heart of the South West devolution partners are:

  • Somerset County Council
  • Somerset’s district and borough councils: Mendip, Sedgemoor, South Somerset, Taunton Deane and West Somerset
  • Devon County Council
  • Devon’s district and borough councils: East Devon, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge and West Devon
  • Plymouth City Council
  • Torbay Council
  • Exeter City Council
  • Exmoor National Park
  • Dartmoor National Park
  • Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group
  • South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Heart of the South West LEP

The prospectus is available here: Heart of the South West – “A Prospectus for Productivity”

Update – December 2015

The 17 local authorities, two National Parks, Local Enterprise Partnership, and the three Clinical Commissioning Groups across the Heart of the South West remain committed to working collectively to deliver greater prosperity and wellbeing to the area, and to improving our contribution to the prosperity of the nation. This will be delivered through a single productivity strategy and a single investment programme.

To ensure rigour in the targets that will form part of our proposition to Government, it has been agreed that an independent financial analysis of our proposals will take place, at pace, over the coming weeks. This work will help link all targets and asks and offers to their contribution to achieving our overall target of delivering a £4 billion productivity gain by 2030. Crucially, this will provide additional evidence in support of the submission through the challenge and negotiation phase of the proposition.

We will also be taking this time to reflect more fully on the latest Local Government Settlement.

The developing proposals will:

  • Maximise the potential of our people – building on best practice to ensure they live healthier, more fulfilling lives and have the opportunity to gain the right skills to access higher value jobs; allowing them to grow careers and prosperity right here in the Heart of the South West.
  • Ensure our businesses have the tools and support they need to create an additional 80,000 jobs.
  • Ensure that our communities have a long term plan for sustainable growth supported by accelerated infrastructure projects and housing growth.

We have identified key opportunities which we must capitalise on for the benefit of people and communities across our area. These include:

    • Our Marine Environment.
    • Investment in Nuclear.
    • Environmental futures with the growth of high tech businesses.
    • Aerospace and advance engineering.
    • Health and Social Care, with some of the most innovative practice and developments for integration.
    • Rural productivity.

Following the independent analysis, the final proposition will be further considered by all partners in January 2016, with a submission to Government expected in the New Year.

Update – November 2015

What is devolution?

Devolution is the redistribution of power and funding from national Government to local authorities. The Chancellor of the Exchequer wants devolution to deliver improved productivity, a more skilled workforce, more housing and reduced, overall, public sector costs and is asking for bids to be submitted.

How have we responded to this?

The Government is keen for devolution to happen within Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) boundaries, and ours is the Heart of the South West (HotSW) covering Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay. There are 20 partners:

      • Heart of the South West LEP.
      • Devon County Council.
      • Somerset County Council.
      • Devon’s district and borough councils – East Devon, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge and West Devon.
      • Somerset’s district and borough councils – Mendip, Sedgemoor, South Somerset, Taunton Deane and West Somerset.
      • Plymouth City Council.
      • Exeter City Council.
      • Torbay Council.
      • Exmoor National Park.
      • Dartmoor National Park.

Update – October 2015

20 partners across the Heart of the South West area outlined their case for a devolution deal which would benefit the HotSW area and the whole of the UK.
A ‘Statement of Intent’ has been submitted to Government in response to its move to devolve powers and budgets from Westminster. With key themes of economic growth; health, social care and wellbeing; infrastructure and local resilience, the document is not a fully worked-up proposal, but sets the scene for discussions with Government about what powers could be devolved. The statement of intent can be viewed here and a list of FAQs are published below and at the downloadable link here.

A newsletter produced on behalf of the 20 partners is available: Newletter 1; Newsletter 2; Newsletter 3; Newsletter 4; Newsletter 5; Newsletter 6, Newsletter 7, Newsletter 8, Newsletter 9, Newsletter 10, Newsletter 11

Update – September 2015

The partners submitted a HotSW Statement of Intent to Government, signalling our wish to open up negotiations for a devolution deal for the HotSW area.

What powers do we want to see devolved?

The Statement of Intent sets out our desire for additional powers and responsibilities in three areas:

      • Economic growth and productivity.
      • Health, social care and wellbeing.
      • Infrastructure and local resilience.

These are the areas we want to be the focus of our discussions with Government as we look in detail at what could make the biggest difference to us and bring the most benefits to communities. More detailed discussions need to take place before we can talk about specific powers.

Equally, if we can do something without having any devolved powers, we will just get on and do it and it won’t form part of our negotiations with Government.

What benefits will we see?

A single voice from 20 different organisations across Devon and Somerset is a very powerful voice. Decision making, controlled and delivered locally, will help us to build on our achievements so far and lead to economic growth, savings and efficiencies, a more, resilient and connected area, and increased productivity.

How much is it costing to make this deal for devolved powers?
The only cost envisaged is the cost of officer time which is being shared between the various organisations.

Would devolution save money?

One of the objectives of the deal is to make the public sector more efficient and save money. Ideally, with less bureaucracy and layers of decision making, devolution will reduce costs. The Government expects devolution deals to be fiscally neutral – it does not want to spend any more money than it already spends. But our communities should benefit from economies of scale, delivering better outcomes.

What happens now?

A Programme Office led by Cllr John Osman (Leader, Somerset County Council) and Tracey Lee (Chief Executive, Plymouth City Council) has been set up to co-ordinate our HotSW devolution bid, which we expect to submit to Government in the New Year 2016.
Theme leads comprising of Leaders and Chief Executives have been identified to work on the detail of the bid, which will be considered by all partners decision making processes before sign off.

When will we know the outcome of the bid?

Following formal submission of the devolution bid, we will enter a period of challenge and negotiation with Government. We expect to hear in March 2016 if the bid has been successful.

Devo NextBackground reading

The Local Government Association has created an information hub on their website. Called Devo Next. It includes resources on issues relating to devolution, useful tools, and a register of what areas across England are doing to deliver devolution.