Following weeks of negotiation between Government and local councils and LEPs a deal worth over £1bn for East Anglia has today, Wednesday March 16, been announced by George Osborne MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The Deal, which sets out a fundamentally different relationship between Government and local public services, was negotiated by Leaders from councils across Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and the New Anglia and Greater Cambridgeshire and Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnerships.
As part of the deal East Anglia would receive:
· £900m (£30m a year for the next 30 years) to invest in infrastructure
· £175m to invest in housing
If ratified by the relevant councils and LEP Boards, The Deal would see decisions currently being made by Government on such things as infrastructure, growth, employment and skills being made in East Anglia in the future.
Cllr Jennie Jenkins, Chair of Suffolk Public Sector Leaders Group said: “The Deal reflects the fact that Suffolk and the rest of East Anglia delivers some significant economic benefits to UK PLC and beyond through agriculture, on and offshore energy and research and innovation in science and technology.
“However, it is important to be clear that what has been published today isn’t a ‘done deal’. It requires ratification by each of the local councils and the LEP Boards.
“We will also be carrying out extensive engagement over the coming months with local communities and businesses across Suffolk with feedback being used to inform the paper that councils will consider in the summer.”
The Deal requires the creation of a Combined Authority and directly elected Mayor and it is proposed that the first mayoral elections would be in May 2017 alongside county council elections.
The directly elected Mayor would act as Chair to the East Anglia Combined Authority and would exercise the following powers and functions devolved from Government:
· Responsibility for a multi-year, consolidated and, devolved local transport budget
· Responsibility for a new Key Route Network of local authority roads that will be managed and maintained by the Combined Authority on behalf of the Mayor
· Powers over strategic planning and housing, including £175m ring-fenced funding to deliver an ambitious target of new homes
The new East Anglia Combined Authority, working with the Mayor, would receive the following powers:
· Control of a new additional £30 million a year funding allocation over 30 years, to be invested to the East Anglia Single Investment Fund, to boost growth
· Responsibility for chairing an area-based review of 16+ skills provision, the outcomes of which will be taken forward in line with the principles of the devolved arrangements, and devolved 19+ adult skills funding from 2018/19.
· Joint responsibility with the government to co-design the new National Work and Health Programme designed to focus on those with a health condition or disability and the very long term unemployed.
Further negotiation and clarification on the specifics of the Deal will continue over the months ahead before each of the councils debates the Deal at Full Council meetings in the summer. Ahead of these meetings there will be extensive engagement with communities and businesses.
This is the first Deal for East Anglia but, as has happened elsewhere in the country, the local authorities and LEPs are keen to negotiate further Deals over the coming months and years.