Deputy Prime Minister hails "genuine transfer of power" to major cities PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 09 December 2011 15:48

England’s largest cities could be handed a range of new powers under so-called bespoke “City Deals”, the Deputy Prime Minister has said.

Nick Clegg also promised that the government would look to roll out the process to other cities in due course.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the first deals would be done with the eight largest cities outside London – Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, Manchester and Sheffield – and their Local Enterprise Partnerships.

The government’s publication, Unlocking growth in cities, set out “an illustrative menu of bold options”. It insisted that the proposals would lead to a “fundamental shift in the relationship between national government and cities – starting with a genuine transfer of power”.

Key proposals include:

  • Cities having one consolidated capital pot “to direct as they see fit”. This would replace multiple funding streams
  • Local authorities having the freedom to set lower business rates for certain types of company. There would be opportunities to match this through Regional Growth Fund bids
  • The creation of Business Improvement Partnerships – where there is local business support – with the power to generate revenues to support growth across the economic area
  • Access to new infrastructure funding through Tax Increment Funding where this is spent on economic development projects, “in line with the Local Government Resource Review”
  • Recognition of the benefits for local authorities that opt to pool business rates across their LEP
  • Devolution of local transport major funding. “The Government will want to look at ways of increasing local accountability for local public transport, building on models like Transport for London”
  • An increase in cities’ control over rail services through the devolution of responsibility for commissioning local and/or regional rail services, “including the management of franchise arrangements”
  • The development of greater accountability to local communities for local bus services, “in the context of wider Bus Service Operators Grant reform”
  • Enabling cities to integrate use of public sector buildings and generate savings by vesting local public sector assets in a single local property company, “with receipts invested in local economic development”
  • Cities having greater responsibility over regeneration funding and responsibilities through the devolution of functions and spending currently held by the Homes & Communities Agency
  • Giving cities greater planning freedoms, including devolution of non-planning consents
  • Granting LEPs statutory consultee status for planning proposals
  • A £100m capital investment pot for competitive bids for broadband infrastructure plans
  • The establishment of City Apprenticeship Hubs, which will handle the administration and paperwork for apprenticeships
  • Creation of a City Skills Fund to enable cities and colleges to work together to tailor the provision of adult skills
  • Giving cities the opportunity to drive local employment and skills, for example by delivering services aimed at getting people back to work “under one roof where it makes sense to do so”
  • Allowing cities to expand existing Department for Work and Pensions contracts, such as the Work Programme Contract, to include other wraparound services
  • UK Trade and Investment working with cities to develop their offer to international business
  • An enhanced programme of support for 16-17 year olds at high risk of disadvantage.

The Department for Communities and Local Government warned that, “as with any deal”, cities would have to offer something in return for new powers and funding.

It added: “For example, cities must guarantee that they can provide strong and accountable leadership, improve efficiency and outcomes, and be innovative in their approach.”

The Unlocking growth in cities publication also warned that cities would have to be willing to take on proportionate risks.

Clegg said: "Cities are the engines of economic growth. Whitehall should not be like an overbearing parent, throwing money at cities but refusing to let them stand on their own two feet. So we will have a bonfire of Whitehall controls to empower our cities to go for growth.

"We need our cities to be economic, social and cultural magnets - places people aspire to live. Firstly, cities will have greater freedom to invest in growth. Secondly, having power over transport, housing, broadband. Finally, the power to boost skills and jobs.”

Philip Hoult


Latest News

July 18, 2014

Councils to secure powers to close roads for motor races: PM

Councils will gain powers to close roads to stage motor races, Prime Minister David Cameron has said. Read more
July 17, 2014

City council refunds motorists after bus lane cameras found to be invalid

Birmingham City Council has refunded more than £13,000 to motorists after a parking adjudicator found some of its bus lane enforcement cameras were invalid. Read more
April 28, 2014

Combined authority faces judicial review over concessionary travel decision

A combined authority in the North of England is facing a judicial review challenge to a decision taken by a predecessor body to reduce concessionary travel on buses and trains for disabled and elderly people. Read more
April 24, 2014

Infrastructure and planning trio return to Bircham Dyson Bell

Three specialist major infrastructure and planning lawyers are to rejoin Bircham Dyson Bell less than a year after leaving for a rival law firm. Read more



Planning iStock 000002733689Small 146x219
April 02, 2014

The Planning Court comes into being

Richard Harwood OBE QC analyses the introduction of a Planning Court this week and outlines the key changes. Read more
projects portrait1
March 31, 2014

First NSIP opens and other project news

Angus Walker reports on the first nationally significant infrastructure project to open for business, amongst other news. Read more
March 12, 2014

Aarhus compliance: how hard can it be?

Michael Bedford analyses the Court of Justice of the European Union's ruling on the UK's 2010 costs regime for legal challenges to environmental decisions and assesses the judgment's likely impact on the current framework. Read more
February 20, 2014

Local authorities, HS2 and judicial reviews

Tom Collins looks at the Supreme Court's ruling in the HS2 case and considers recent developments in relation to the ability of councils to bring judicial review proceedings. Read more


Older news and features

May 02, 2013

Highway to CIL

May 02, 2013

The road to clarity

Click here for full section archive

Now Previewing on Section 38 Agreements (Click on the arrow to begin. Preview is shown smaller than actual size - click on bottom right of screen for full size.)

Featured Jobs

CLICK HERE to search all current vacancies

Featured Courses & Events

50% off LGLtv subscriptions

Sign up for Courses and Events Updates

* indicates required

Services v2

Yellow pages iStock 000009762383XSmall cropTo access details of individual advertisers, please click on the relevant banner below.

To search all entries in the Local Government Lawyer Services Directory, please click here



 Shout_to_the_top_looking_left_iStock_000006002590XSmall_98x74 Latest Blog Posts





Snap Judgement

Will the SRA's decision to remove the 16 hour minimum training requirement...