On August 1, 2022 – Yorkshire Day – long-awaited proposals for a landmark devolution deal were announced. Plans hand over key decision-making powers while bringing hundreds of millions of pounds of investment to York and North Yorkshire.
The proposed 30-year devolution agreement would deliver funding for key policies and strategies, providing better roads and public transport, improving education and job opportunities, boosting the economy and placing York and North Yorkshire at the forefront of the green energy sector to tackle climate change. The planned agreement, with which the total funding agreed rises above £540 million to York and North Yorkshire, has been provisionally agreed with the government.
Plenty has happened since that historic announcement 12 months ago – below is a timeline of key events.
1 August 2022. The proposed devolution deal, negotiated between the City of York and North Yorkshire councils, the Government, and local authorities, is announced for York and North Yorkshire.
October – December 2022. A regionwide consultation gathered the views of residents. Results showed the region was broadly supportive of devolution, with the majority, 54 per cent, in favour of a mayor for York and North Yorkshire.
January 2023. Expressions of interest are invited for two funds – the £12.7 million York and North Yorkshire Brownfield Housing Fund and the £7 million York and North Yorkshire Net Zero Fund. Both pots of funding are linked to the proposed devolution deal.
February 2023. Results of the consultation and the scheme for devolution were submitted to the Secretary of State following decisions by City of York and North Yorkshire councils.
April 2023. The region was announced as one of only four in England to each receive up to £1 million from the Government’s Local Investment in Natural Capital Programme. Investment is seen as an example of additional funding coming into the region following the proposed York and North Yorkshire devolution deal.
July 2023. The Joint Devolution Committee approves to match-fund an Adult Education Budget implementation fund, paving the way for adult learning to be commissioned locally (subject to progress of devolution process). The joint committee also approved further funding for implementation of a combined authority and an initial staffing structure (subject to progress of devolution process).
Autumn 2023. The draft order to be laid before Parliament to be approved locally (pending).
Autumn 2023. Order to be laid before Parliament for a decision as to whether to form a combined authority for York and North Yorkshire.
Autumn 2023. New combined authority is formed (if devolution deal progressed).
Spring 2024. Mayoral elections (if devolution deal progressed).
The proposed devolution deal
Under terms of the proposed deal, the mayor will be supported by the transfer of key powers and investment from Whitehall.
Key features include:
Control of a £540 million investment fund in total over 30 years to drive growth and take forward local priorities over the longer term, giving the mayor and local constituent councils more flexibility to decide how best to spend money on key local priorities.
New powers to improve and better integrate local transport, including the ability to introduce bus franchising, and an integrated transport settlement starting in 2024/25.
Powers to better improve local skills to ensure these meet the needs of the local economy. This will include devolution of Adult Education functions and the core Adult Education Budget and contribute to the Local Skills Improvement Plan.
Over £13 million for the building of new homes on brownfield land across 2023/24 and 2024/25, subject to sufficient eligible projects for funding being identified.
£7 million investment to enable York and North Yorkshire to drive green economic growth towards their ambitions to be a carbon negative region. This investment is subject to agreement of submitted business case.
Powers to drive the regeneration of the area and to build more affordable, more beautiful homes, including compulsory purchase powers and the ability to establish Mayoral Development Corporations.
The mayor will take on role and functions of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner. Integration of the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership into York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority. This will ensure there continues to be a strong and independent local business voice which informs local decision-making.