Devolution Bulletin - September 2022

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Devolution Bulletin

September 2022

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

The new Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Liz Truss MP has appointed a new ministerial team, with the Rt Hon Simon Clarke MP as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Paul Scully MP, Dehenna Davison MP, Lee Rowley MP, Andrew Stephenson MP and Baroness Scott of Bybrook have also been appointed to the department as ministers.  

The new Government has begun its tenure with announcements on new Investment Zones and a Rural England Prosperity Fund – please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have questions about what this could mean for your area.   

Make sure you get the dates in your diary now for the LGA’s new webinar series. These webinars, for areas exploring or negotiating a devolution deal with Government, will look at making a success of governance, accountability and scrutiny (17 October, 10.30am) successfully managing the creation of a combined authority (9 November, 10.30am),  building engagement through good communication (29 November, 10.30am), and making a successful evidence-led pitch to Government (16 December, 10.30am).  


Simon Clarke MP appointed new Levelling Up Secretary  

The Rt Hon Simon Clarke MP has been appointed Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities by the new Prime Minister. Joining him at the department are Paul Scully MP as Minister of State and Minister for London; and Dehenna Davison MP, Lee Rowley MP, Andrew Stephenson MP and Baroness Scott of Bybrook, all in the role of Parliamentary Under Secretary.  

New £110 million Rural Prosperity Fund announced 

The Government has announced a new Rural England Prosperity Fund worth £110 million to level up countryside communities. The funding will be invested in projects which aim to boost productivity and create rural job opportunities. The fund will be a part of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) but will be in addition to the £2.6 million allocated through UKSPF to support levelling up.

Government announces new Investment Zones as part of Growth Plan 

The Chancellor announced plans to introduce Investment Zones across the UK. These areas will offer tax incentives, liberalised planning rules, and Mayoral Combined Authorities could receive a single local growth settlement. The Government has had initial discussions with 38 local authorities to establish Investment Zones in those areas, but they will now open this offer to every local area. Guidance on submitting a formal expression of interest is expected to be published imminently. You can read the LGA’s response to the announcement, and the wider Growth Plan on our website. 

Labour is exploring devolution of income tax says Lisa Nandy   

Shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy MP told a fringe event hosted by Onward at Labour Party Conference that Labour is exploring devolving a percentage of income tax. She also said that a Labour government would give councils and combined authorities greater powers over transport and skills policy. She revealed that she is now working with Andy Haldane, the former head of the Levelling Up Taskforce.


Delivering for Rural England  

This is the second report on rural proofing from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs. It examines how the Government has supported the rural economy and rural communities, including through the Levelling Up White Paper. It also summarises progress against the first rural proofing report 

Reimagining the State: an essay  

This essay from Reform argues that the three foundational systems underpinning prosperity – the state, markets and communities – are out of balance and lays out the case for a fundamental rethink of the role and shape of the state.  

In Parliament

PM promises focus on levelling up in first PMQs   

In her first Prime Minister’s Questions, the Prime Minister committed to continuing the levelling up agenda. In response to a question from Dr Kieran Mullan MP, she said “what I will be doing as Prime Minister is absolutely focusing on levelling up and making sure that we are attracting the investment and growth into parts of this country that have been left behind, so that they have their fair share of opportunity.”

Debate on the future of coastal communities 

Sally-Ann Hart MP moved this debate, emphasising the important role that coastal communities can play in regional economies. She called on Government for levelling up policies to recognise the unique challenges faced by coastal areas, and appoint a dedicated Minister for coastal communities. 

In response, the then Minister, Lia Nici set out the progress already made in levelling up coastal communities through improved broadband, opening freeports, and further local devolution. 

Debate on redevelopment of Peterborough Station Quarter 

Paul Bristow MP moved this debate, arguing that investing in Peterborough’s Station Quarter would level up not just Peterborough but the whole of the east of England. In response, the Transport Minister, Wendy Norton MP, spoke about the support for transport in that area through a variety of sources, including £600 million through Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority devolution deal to support economic growth, local infrastructure and new jobs.  


Smith Square Debate: Is England set to level up?  

This hybrid event is the first of a new series of debates hosted by the LGA. As the country grapples with wide-ranging and systemic challenges ranging from the cost of living, a stretched NHS, and low productivity to ambitious net zero targets and changes in how we live and work post-pandemic, the LGA is bringing together key thinkers to discuss whether England has the right decision-makers, systems and funding in place to meet them. The debate will take place at 6pm on 18 October, and will be followed by networking.  

Making places: The role of regeneration in levelling up

Centre for Cities are launching a report on the place of city-centre regeneration in the levelling up agenda. This event, taking place on 11 October at 5 Pancras Square, will include a short presentation from Centre for Cities and a panel discussion followed by refreshments and networking.  

Sharing ideas

Devolution webinar series   

The LGA is running a series of webinars for areas exploring or negotiating a devolution deal with Government. The first webinar, on 17 October at 10.30 is on making a success of governance, accountability and scrutiny. It will look at the different governance models available within the devolution framework in the Levelling Up White Paper, including County Combined Authorities (CCAs), what powers are likely to be available to areas with each type of deal, and how to negotiate relationships between potential constituent and non-constituent members. 

Subsequent webinars will be on successfully managing the creation of a combined authority (9 November, 10.30am),  building engagement through good communication (29 November, 10.30am), and making a successful evidence-led pitch to Government (16 December, 10.30am).   

All webinars will be free for all councils and combined authorities. Book now to secure your space! 

Combined Authority Employment and Skills Network 

The LGA has appointed think… to support the combined authority employment and skills network. They will bring together expert officers from combined authorities to identify common employment and skills issues and solutions to these challenges, share good practice and lessons learnt to support learning across the combined authorities. Get in touch if you’d like to join the network!  

Please contact your regional principal adviser if you would like to discuss LGA support.