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‘Devolution deadlock’ feared as government admits no deals made last year

An annual government review into devolution deals across the UK has found that no new agreements were reached between April 2016 and March 2017, with only one application made.

While there has been the continuation of previous devolution plans during this period, only the North of Tyne group actually made a move to create a new deal.

“Between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017, the government reached no devolution agreements with new areas,” the report confirms.

"In relation to areas where agreements were previously reached, no further devolution agreements were concluded in that period."

However, there were three major areas where financial devolution took place due to already planned projects, including a £300m housing fund in Greater Manchester, a £170m growth fund for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and multi-year transport grants provided to a number of authorities including the Liverpool and Sheffield city regions.

The lack of new agreements has caused public-sector representatives to question the progress of devolution in the UK.

Autumn Budget devo deals a ‘step in the right direction’

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, chairman of the LGA’s People and Places Board, commented: “The devolution deals announced in the Autumn Budget were a step in the right direction and need to reignite the devolution process.

“Taking decisions closer to where people live is key to improving public services and unlocking inclusive growth. However, while local leaders in places such as the North of Tyne and the West Midlands can be justifiably proud of their achievements, many more such deals are required to allow communities across the country to benefit.

“The longer it takes to secure new devolution deals, the longer communities will have to wait to benefit from the opportunities currently available to areas where devolution has taken place.”

Hawthorne continued to say that there was a “real risk” that areas without devolution deals could be left behind if more agreements were not made, sparking fears of what he called a “devolution deadlock.”

The LGA is urging the government to jump-start the debate and try to push through more devolution deals in the next year.

Recently, there have has been progress on new agreements, with the West Midlands specifically being named as part of a second deal made “in principle” on housing and growth.

This was followed by GMCA mayor Andy Burnham’s announcement of a new transport overhaul, aimed at improving public transport services across Manchester.

Top image: omersukrugoksu

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