First steps towards a Devolution Deal for York & North Yorkshire13 July 2020
City of York is working together with North Yorkshire County Council and the District and Borough Councils of Craven, Hambleton, Harrogate, Scarborough, Selby, Richmondshire and Ryedale to begin the process of agreeing a York and North Yorkshire devolution proposal.
Devolution is the transfer of power and funding associated with specific policy areas from the UK Government to sub-regional and local governments in England. The process means the transfer of powers, funding and decisions which would usually be taken by central government to a more local or regional level.
The government has pledged that English devolution can be a means of ‘levelling up’ all parts of the country and reducing regional inequalities. English devolution deals focus on boosting local economic growth. Funding and powers are usually devolved to support transport, skills, housing, planning and general economic development programmes in the area.
Generally, each devolution deal includes an investment fund worth hundreds of millions of pounds which is paid in annual instalments over three decades. These funds can be used to finance transport, housing, and a broader range of strategic projects which will attract further investment into the region.
Devolution in Yorkshire
Since 2018, as a region, York & North Yorkshire has been discussing devolution when leaders across Yorkshire committed to developing a joined-up deal for “one Yorkshire”. However, the UK Government responded to this, making clear they would first prefer smaller devolved deals.
Since then, devolution deals have been agreed for South Yorkshire and, in March this year, a deal was agreed for West Yorkshire. A York and North Yorkshire deal is the only option currently on the table for our sub-region.
Given the need for our sub-region to work together in response, councils have agreed to explore with Government what opportunities the potential for devolution could bring, helping York and Yorkshire recover strongly. The timetable is still to be set for York and North Yorkshire to make decisions about its own devolution, aiming to take place between 2020 and 2022.This follows the West Yorkshire deal and will provide the region the opportunity to secure similar funding and powers, so it can match investment and ambition across the Northern Powerhouse.
What could devolution mean for York & North Yorkshire?
Papers going to local councillors for consideration, suggest that a devolution deal for York & North Yorkshire could potentially unlock significant investment over 30 years. Devolution would also mean that the region has greater powers and resources to harness the potential of the region which would help to deliver its ambition of becoming England’s first carbon negative economy. Furthermore, it would enable greater local investment in transport, housing, town centre regeneration and development, digital connectivity, skills and employability.
Local investment is hugely important in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, as despite having a diverse and robust economy the York and North Yorkshire region has been hard hit. With 98.5 per cent of the region’s businesses made up of micro and small businesses, many which rely primarily on the visitor economy the, scale of economic impact across the region is unprecedented. Devolution would mean the region has greater control of investment into the region which could stimulate business growth and accelerate recovery from Covid-19. It will help provide the certainty required to invest in businesses and stimulate growth, accelerating recovery post Covid-19.
What’s happening now in York & North Yorkshire?
We are now at the stage where leaders from each of the local authorities across York & North Yorkshire are considering a set of “asks” which are laid out in the devolution proposal.
At meetings taking place throughout July, each local authority is being asked to agree to begin the process of negotiating a devolution deal by agreeing the “asks”.
There are many steps needing to be taken to negotiate a deal – this is the first. If conversations between the Councils and Government progress well, a governance review will be required to take place, including a full consultation, which will provide residents, communities and businesses a full opportunity to share their views before decisions are made.
What happens next?
If the local authorities collectively agree the set of “asks”, a devolution proposal will be submitted to government and the process of negotiating a devolution deal will begin.
For more information, please visit your local authority website.