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Progressing Sheffield’s stalled devo deal to cost over £100k

The cost of progressing Sheffield City Region’s (SCR’s) stalled devolution deal with another public consultation will cost the authority over £100,000, a document from the CA has revealed.

The document asked the SCR’s executive managing director to enter into the requisite contractual arrangement to deliver the required programme of activity surrounding the additional consultation. By making the fiscal and practical case for devolution. 

This amount will be spent on an additional consultation for the devolution deal, which has already faced many obstacles this year, having been blocked by the High Court, a measure that is likely to cost the SCR in excess of half a million pounds.

Financially, though the consultation would cost £104,000, the paper argued that the fiscal opportunity posed by successful devolution outweighed this figure. It was estimated that an additional £900m of funding would be raised for economic development through devolution.

On top of this, the report cited that the ability to retain 100% of its business rate growth – above the forecast baseline – could be seen as a major benefit.

Additionally, as a Mayoral Combined Authority, SCR would enjoy wider borrowing powers, something that would be a “significant opportunity to successfully manage the area’s investment profile”.

The SCR report also raised issues to be considered in the consultation: “It was established through the Judicial Review that the SCR had not asked ‘should Chesterfield and Bassetlaw join the SCR CR?’

“Pursuing such an approach would offer potential benefits of building on the activity already undertaken, therefore costing less and could potentially be undertaken and the results analysed more expediently.”

This was not an approach which the SCR recommended implementing, however. “With the balance of the time that has elapsed since the last consultation, coupled with the fact that the identified un-asked question may have influenced responses to other elements of the previous consultation, it is not recommended to pursue this option.

“This is on the basis that it would provide less comprehensive results than that of the broader approach proposed.”

SCR’s deal has been fraught with difficulty over the last year, as the plans that were originally drawn up were described as “making no sense” by Nottinghamshire’s County Council leader Cllr Alan Rhodes.

Other deals across the country have also faced similar problems. In Oxfordshire, a devo deal was declared as “dead” as three councils have now instead opted to submit a proposal to reorganise the region into a unitary authority, whilst devolution hopes in the East Midlands were damaged last month after Lincolnshire County Council’s plans were accused of being “unlawful” by a lawyer.

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