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Sheffield region set to sign £900m devolution deal

George Osborne is set to sign a £900m devolution deal for the Sheffield City Region, including a directly elected mayor – the first of the 38 national bids submitted ahead of the Spending Review.

Osborne will be in the city later today (2 October) to announce the deal following a month of “detailed negotiations”.

The deal must be formally approved by each of the councils within the city region and is subject to consultation and engagement with residents and businesses over the coming months.

It will also depend on Whitehall delivering its promises made in this and previous deals, as well as on the city-region agreeing to elect a metro-mayor in 2017.

The mayor will oversee a series of powers including control of transport budgets, franchised bus services and strategic planning, including:

  • Responsibility over the region’s transport budget, with a multi-year settlement to be agreed at the Spending Review
  • Responsibility for franchised bus services, which will support the Combined Authority’s delivery of smart and integrated ticketing across its councils
  • Responsibility for an identified Key Route Network of local authority roads that will be collaboratively managed and maintained at the city region level by the Combined Authority on behalf of the Mayor
  • Powers over strategic planning
  • [Source:]

Additional devolved powers for the area's combined authority will include an annual £30m share of the Whitehall's cash pot for 30 years. The authority will also be responsible, alongside the mayor, for chairing an area-based review of skills provision for those over 16 and devolved adult skills funding for those over 19 from 2018-19.

Furthermore it must work with the government to design employment support for claimants with more complex needs, as well as develop and implement a local-based approach to deliver national business support programmes from 2017.

The devolution contract will scope a range of themes including transport, skills, job creation, inward investment and support towards local businesses, as well as identifying new opportunities for local growth alongside central government.

James Newsom, chairman of the Sheffield City Region LEP, said: “For too long Whitehall has been in control of major decisions affecting local places on important issues such as transport, skills, regeneration and infrastructure improvements.

“This deal goes some way to redressing this imbalance. It also means that the local private sector continues to play a leading role in making decisions which impact business growth, alongside combined authority political leaders and the new city region mayor.

“This deal will enable local leaders to accelerate delivery of the jobs and new businesses that our local economy needs to grow. This positions Sheffield City Region at the front of the Northern Powerhouse pack and strengthens our positon as a world class centre for modern manufacturing and engineering technology.”

Newsom added that the fact that this deal is the first of 38 to be signed proves Osborne’s “confidence” in the “economic prospects” for the city region, including the “strength” of their economic partnership, the” support of their private sector” and the “quality” of their devolution bid.

It is expected to enable the city region to build on its “world-class assets”, such as the Rotherham-based Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District. It will help align the new Doncaster-based National College for High Speed Rail with the new Institute of Technology, as well as deliver “major” town centre improvement plans in Barnsley and the enterprise zones across the whole region.

Osborne said: “Sheffield is forging ahead in the Northern Powerhouse, which this historic deal proves is taking shape.

“I want to thank the civic leaders of South Yorkshire who have worked with me to embrace this opportunity. It has the power to change the shape of local government in the region in a way that would have been unthinkable even just a few years ago. For local people, it will mean the decisions that affect them being taken locally.”

The deal was first agreed with Whitehall in December 2014, at which point PSE revealed all details of the scope of each devolved theme.

Today’s decision also marks Sheffield as the second northern city to sign a devolution deal, following Greater Manchester’s agreement with Whitehall in November of last year.

(Top image c. collebeast)


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