09.05.19

Government agrees to £30m a year South Yorkshire devolution deal

The government has given the go-ahead for the South Yorkshire devolution deal following a “breakthrough” in March in the stalled £30m a year deal for the Sheffield City Region.

After “years of impasse”, the four South Yorkshire council leaders and mayor Dan Jarvis agreed to a devolution deal, and James Brokenshire the communities secretary has now told  the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority (SCR CA) that the deal can go ahead.

The announcement comes more than three years after the initial deal was agreed, with the long delay caused by negotiations and proposals for a One Yorkshire devolution deal.

But Brokenshire rejected these proposals in February stating “they do not meet our devolution criteria,” with Wakefield Council’s leader urging the other authority leaders to start considering other options.

In his letter, Brokenshire said he recognised a local appetite for devolution across Yorkshire, and said he was prepared to begin discussions about a different approach to devolution in the area – as long as the Sheffield City Region deal was completed.

Local politicians “reached a consensus” in March and agreed to the devolution deal worth around £30m a year in extra funding, and now the communities secretary has given the official go-ahead.

Brokenshire wrote to Jarvis and the four council leaders to accept their latest proposals, which will see control over policy areas including transport, housing, and skills transferred to the combined authority.

However, part of the new agreement means any council wishing to leave the Sheffield City Region after 2022 and join a wider Yorkshire deal are free to do so.

In the new letter, Brokenshire said the government was prepared to implement the deal and “welcomed the commitment” from the authority leaders, adding that he was “ready to consider a localist approach to devolution elsewhere across Yorkshire.”

Dan Jarvis said it was an “important step towards devolution of further powers and resources to communities” but that more dialogue would take place as “it is important to remember that devolution is a process, not an event.”

In a statement, the leaders backing One Yorkshire said it welcomed the government’s positive response to the “constructive approach for unlocking the Sheffield City Region devolution deal set out by South Yorkshire leaders.”

Image credit - Danny Lawson/PA Archive/PA Images

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