Last month, George Osborne at the Mansion House and Ed Milliband in Liverpool set out common goals to devolve further funding to local areas particularly to accelerate local economic growth.
The publication of the Local Growth Deals to the 39 LEPs on the 7th of July – a joint involvement package between Government and local areas – marks a major step on the path to devolved funding.
In the first round of Growth Deals but it seems that those areas – a small number of city regions – which most closely mirror Governments’ preferred governance model of Combined Authorities are being rewarded wit both greater funding and certainly with greater flexibility. I would have no doubt that other city regions will follow but in larger LEPs such as D2N2, where County and City work together, and particularly where working together over the a bif Geography is new, local Governance solutions should be more closely supported.
Combined Authorities across a number of economic geographies often found in shire counties are difficult to deliver. In D2N2’s case the economic needs and challenges reeds of the Peak District are very different from Nottingham and/or Derby or even Newark and Worksop. The transition of the old collieries is still ongoing requiring individual and local responses, whilst Nottingham pushes for Life Sciences and Clean tech whilst Derby Hi tech manufacturing in Transport Engineering – planes, trains and automobiles.
With 19 Local Authorities, we have taken huge strides in the last 12 months to join up local Government. Both Derbyshire and Derby and Nottingham and Nottinghamshire have come together to form Economic Prosperity Committees to prioritise and work more cohesively o shared challenges but as yet this seems not to have excited those in Government.
Nationally, we do seem to be a race to devolvement and it will be those LEPs, that put in place the robust governance as well as the rationale and ambition and value for money that will win out.
As a core city LEP, D2N2 is at the forefront of bringing together businesses, local Government, HE/FE and the VCS in an inspiring and ambitious drive for economic growth. The local knowledge and their ability to deliver shared goals whilst sometimes challenging to coalesce does make me feel that the case for devolvement is strong and that local areas are, at least likely, and in my view more likely, to allocate and spend increasingly scarce resources better, more quickly and crucially on the activities that deliver real economic value not just those that are nice to have.