Devolution Bulletin - April 2022

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Devolution Bulletin

April 2022

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Welcome to the April 2022 edition of the LGA’s Devolution Improvement and Support Bulletin. 

Although we’re in the run up to local elections for many areas, work on devolution and levelling up has continued. Cornwall Council has announced its plan to seek the highest level of devolution powers available in the Levelling Up White Paper, the Government has launched the UK Shared Prosperity Fund prospectus and allocations, and published the outcome of the LEP review 

Levelling up has also remained a trending topic for debate. The first roundtable of the LGA’s Levelling Up Locally Inquiry on funding and alignment took place, and there were debates in Parliament on levelling up South West England and how funding urban transport is necessary for levelling up to succeed.  

A reminder that if your area is considering or is in the process of negotiating a devolution deal, we can offer a range of support. From our video explaining devolution to residents, to our devolution deal to delivery guide, to bespoke support through our Principal Advisers we are here to help you. 


Cornwall Council applies for top level of devolution  

Cllr Linda Taylor, Leader of Cornwall Council confirmed that Cornwall has applied to Government for the highest level of devolution set out in the Levelling Up White Paper. If agreed, this would mean that Cornwall would also get a directly elected mayor or leader.  

Launch of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund  

On 13 April, the Government published the prospectus and allocations for the  UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF). In a statement to Parliament, Neil O’Brien said it would target funding “where it is needed most: building pride in place; supporting high quality skills training; supporting pay, employment and productivity growth; and increasing life chances.” The LGA has produced a briefing on the prospectus which summarises guidance and the key issues.  

Government announces plans for Local Enterprise Partnerships  

Neil O’Brien MP and Paul Scully MP have written to Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Chairs, combined authority mayors and the Mayor of London to announce the conclusion of the LEP review. LEPs will be integrated into existing combined authorities and county deals as they come into force. Where LEPs are not in devolution deal areas, they will be supported to continue as they are now, subject to future funding decisions. 


Will the levelling up missions help reduce regional inequality?  

This paper from the Institute for Government analyses the 12 missions set out in the Levelling Up White Paper. It finds that only four of the 12 missions are clear, ambitious and have appropriate metrics. If the Government wants to reduce regional inequality, this paper argues that the other eight missions need to be recalibrated.   

Democracy Made in England: Where Next for English Local Government?  

The Democracy Made in England report from the Electoral Reform Society calls for the establishment of a devolution framework, reform of elections in English local government, and improved centre-local relations. It argues that delivering these will require both leadership from the top and genuine, empowered, bottom up engagement from local representatives and communities.  

Will ‘Levelling Up’ genuinely reach out to rural areas? 

Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) has produced a briefing on the impact of the Levelling Up White Paper on rural areas. This briefing reviews the 12 missions against ACRE’s own vision for rural communities.

In Parliament

South West of England: Levelling up debate 

The Lord Bishop of Exeter moved a debate on levelling up in South West England. He highlighted the need for the levelling up debate to focus on interregional and intraregional inequities, rather than the north/south divide, and argued the South West region “merits greater investment than the Government’s levelling-up strategy currently offers”.  

In responding Lord Greenhalgh emphasised the important role of future devolution deals in the South West. He stressed the Government’s commitment to investing in the region, such as through the £131 million from the first round of the Levelling Up Fund and £198 million from the Towns Fund.  

Urban Transport: Future Funding debate  

In a debate on the future funding of urban transport, Clive Betts MP argued that the accessibility of public transport is a levelling up issue, and that Government needs to move away from a fragmented funding approach. Instead he called for “a more sustainable and joined-up approach to long-term funding” with mayors given the ability to join up their approaches to transport, home building and skills delivery.  

Responding to the debate, Trudy Harrison MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport said that the Government has set out a wide range of commitments across all modes of transport during this Parliament. She highlighted that the Levelling Up Fund will invest in local transport infrastructure projects.  


Local Government Association Annual Conference  

The biggest conference in the UK local government calendar will be taking place in Harrogate on 28-30 June 2022. There will be opportunities for delegates to participate in wide-ranging programme focusing on the issues that matter most to our local communities. With a vibrant mix of large plenary sessions, parallel plenary sessions, workshops and fringe events, this is a must-attend event for senior representatives working in local and central government as well as senior staff from charities and businesses. Book your place on the LGA website now 

Devolution and levelling up with Jamie Driscoll, Mayor of the North of Tyne 

This event will hear from Jamie Driscoll, Mayor of the North of Tyne combined authority, in conversation with Akash Paun, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Government. At the event, the mayor will discuss his role, how to make levelling up a reality in the North Tyne area and how he would like to see devolution extended.  

Sharing ideas

Levelling Up Local Inquiry: Funding and alignment roundtable 

On 22 March the LGA hosted the first roundtable of the ‘Levelling up Locally Inquiry’ exploring the theme of funding and alignment. It looked at how the levelling up agenda might be paid for and how aligning policy and funding locally could improve public services outcomes and reduce deprivation. The next roundtable will be on the theme of leadership.  

Briefing for CEOs, Directors and Heads of Service: Securing the future of public sport and leisure services  

A new resource is available to support local conversations about the future of public sport and leisure services and the valuable contribution they make to a multitude of national and local policy objectives. The resource includes key messages from the report “securing the future of public sport and leisure services”, case studies, policy updates and support tools.  

Shopping for health: putting health assets into the heart of local communities 

This collection of case studies from the LGA looks at the way that councils have worked to repurpose town centres and respond to longer-term trends in how high streets are used. By learning from others who have taken a wide range of approaches to addressing the multi-faceted issue of retail vacancy, the case studies presented will provide a resource that can support action at all scales, from market towns to major metropolitan centres.  

Share your ideas  

Is your council leading the way on explaining devolution to residents? Or maybe you’re using your combined authority’s powers in new and innovative ways? If you’ve got best practice to share, please get in touch and you could see your council feature in the next edition of this devolution bulletin!