Devolution Bulletin - June 2022

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Devolution Bulletin

June 2022

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

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill had its second reading in Parliament on 8 June and is now progressing to Committee Stage. More on what that means below; we’ll keep you updated as the Bill progresses through Parliament.

There are several new publications out this month – including two looking at the role of combined authority mayors and how they can be empowered. As new county combined authorities begin to emerge, we expect to see more about the roles of mayors and how they will work in the new county combined authority structures where places have chosen to have them.

We hope that many of you will be joining us at the LGA’s annual conference, taking place in Harrogate this week. There’s a packed agenda full of exciting events, including: levelling up – the role for digital, levelling up – the vision from councils, the future of cities reception, and maximising the opportunities of levelling up, with Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Simon Clarke MP.


Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill passes Second Reading

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 8 June. This means it has now progressed to Committee stage. At this point, MPs will go through the Bill line by line, and propose amendments. The LGA has published a briefing on the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill for the Committee stage and the House of Commons Library has also produced a research briefing on the Bill.

Government welcomes Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire councils’ devolution bid

Neil O’Brien MP has welcomed Nottinghamshire County Council, Nottingham City Council, Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council’s initial bid to form an East Midlands Mayoral Combined Authority. If devolution plans are approved, the first election for a mayor for the area could be in May 2024.

Trailblazer combined authority chiefs call for greater funding certainty and more accountability over delivery (£)

Speaking at a committee of the Levelling up and Regeneration Bill, the chief executives of the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority said that their priorities were greater certainty over funding and more accountability for delivery. They also called for greater power and influence in areas such as housing, transport and skills.

LGA, CCN and DCN Chairs appear before Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill Committee

LGA chair Cllr James Jamison, along with DCN chair Cllr Sam Chapman-Allen and CCN chair Cllr Tim Oliver appeared as witnesses to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill Committee on 21 June. They answered questions on the sorts of powers that their members would be interesting in holding as part of a County Combined Authority and made the case that devolution should be locally led.


Give Back Control: Realising the potential of England’s mayors

This report from the think tank Onward argues that mayors are tackling major challenges, and empowering mayors is key to unlocking levelling up. It makes four recommendations: that mayors should be given greater fiscal freedom, that mayors should accept greater accountability, that mayors should be empowered to act as economic champions, and that mayors need to build their individual and collective capability.

Right Where You Left Me? Analysis of the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on local economies in the UK

The Economy 2030 Inquiry has produced this report looking at the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on spatial inequalities across the UK. The report found that in contrast to the initial fears that Covid could permanently damage cities, the evidence suggests that, by early 2022, changes have had only a minimal impact on spatial inequalities.

How metro mayors can help level up England

This report from the Institute for Government argues that England’s metro mayors have demonstrated that devolution works, but that a lack of real power means unrealistic expectations have been set for what mayors can achieve and be held to account for. It calls for great devolution over functions like skills, transport and infrastructure, giving mayors the right to request powers devolved to any other area of England, a framework to improve the relationships between government departments and mayors and a commitment from Government to not amend or reverse devolution without local consent.

Transport authorities for metropolitan areas: The benefits and options in times of change

This report from the Urban Transport Group from the Urban Transport Group sets out the many benefits of metropolitan areas establishing empowered transport authorities and provides a guide to the issues and options for those areas who are considering setting one up. It looks at how transport authorities have been able to address complex issues, and what the next set of challenges might be for urban transport governance.

The Politics of Levelling Up

This paper from The Political Quarterly looks at the opportunity for levelling up to create high-profile initiatives and symbols of change through which the Government can develop a narrative of success. It considers the complexity of the challenge in delivering levelling up, in light of the changes wrought by globalisation and technological change.  

In Parliament

Equality of Opportunity: East Wakefield Debate

Jon Trickett MP moved this Equality of Opportunity: South-East Wakefield debate, prompted, he said, in part by the Government’s levelling up agenda. He called for “full-scale economic system change and proper devolution of power” so that “people who make decisions can understand their impact on local people”.

Responding to the debate, the Minister (Kemi Badenoch MP) stated that levelling up is at the heart of the Government’s agenda, with a “clear commitment to unlock economic prosperity across all areas of the country”. She went on to say that it is “about providing momentum to address long-standing regional inequalities”.  

Written Parliamentary Questions

There were written questions on how Government will ensure areas without a devolution deal do not lose out, increasing the remit of local leaders to enable them to implement ambitious insulation schemes, and the potential merits of introducing Local Enterprise Partnerships to promote locally tailored health-first programmes.

Oral Parliamentary Questions

Levelling Up, Housing and Communities questions this month included questions on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, improving digital connectivity, the criteria used to award levelling up funds, and if the Government will require departments to publish an annual report on the impact of spatial disparities across the UK.


Local Government Association Annual Conference  

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The Local Government Association’s annual conference is taking place in Harrogate this week, with a number of events on devolution and levelling up. These include:

Levelling up – the role for digital: Wednesday 29 June, 11.30am

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought our reliance on digital infrastructure into sharp focus with increasing numbers of services becoming digital by default. However, research shows digital exclusion is more likely to be faced by those on low incomes, people over 65 and people with disabilities.This session explores the role local government and its partners can play in improving local infrastructure, removing barriers to getting online and helping people improve their digital skills to address social and economic inequalities and level up every community.

Levelling up – the vision from councils: Wednesday 29 June, 11.30am

Councils at the vanguard of the levelling up debate will set out their vision for their communities and how they propose to drive economic renewal, support inclusive growth and address the cost of living issues.

Future of Cities: Wednesday 29 June, 5.15pm

This reception will launch the LGA’s Future of Cities hub, a collection of essays, videos and data and demographic analysis from city leaders and urban experts from around the world. This event is being held in partnership with the UK Cities Climate Investment Commission, Core Cities, Key Cities and London Councils. Refreshments available.

Maximising the opportunities of Levelling Up: Thursday 30 June, 9.45am

The Government has set out to level up the UK against some of the strongest economic headwinds for a generation. We will hear from speakers including the Rt Hon Simon Clarke MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury about the challenges ahead and a strong vision of how to maximise the opportunities to make progress in the years ahead.

Realising Regional Growth: What next for the West Midlands?

This half-day conference hosted by Centre for Cities on 30 June will bring together national and regional politicians, academics and business leaders to discuss how the West Midlands can build on its existing strengths, as well as developing new ones, in order to harness opportunities presented by the Levelling Up agenda, and maximise growth not just across the region, but across the whole UK.

Sharing ideas

LGA’s Work Local employment and skills proposals and Levelling Up webinar

This webinar will explore the LGA’s Work Local: Unlocking talent to level up proposals. These build on the Levelling up White Paper, and recommend ways Whitehall can improve its approach to employment and skills policy for all places. Attendees will hear directly from councils and combined authorities about how they are using Work Local to develop their employment and skills offers.

Local Authority Digital Champions Webinar

The Levelling Up White Paper, and recently released UK Digital Strategy, set out targets for the UK to have nationwide gigabit-capable broadband and 4G coverage by 2030. Our joint webinar with Mobile UK, The Case for Local Authority Digital Champions on Wednesday 13 July at 12.30, is open for booking and will explore the role of digital champions in improving mobile connectivity, as well as how this fits into the Government’s wider Levelling Up agenda.

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!