New elected mayors for English counties and southern cities have been announced by chancellor George Osborne as he insisted the ‘devolution revolution is taking hold’.
In his Budget speech today, Mr Osborne revealed agreements had been reached to create combined authorities headed up by elected mayors for East Anglia, the west of England and Greater Lincolnshire.
He added that more than half of the population of the Northern Powerhouse would be able to elect a mayor accountable to them next year.
Mr Osborne also announced that new powers over the criminal justice system would be transferred to Greater Manchester and business rates would be fully devolved to the Greater London Authority from next April – three years before the rest of the country. Greater Lincolnshire’s deal – worth £450m over 30 years - includes transport, housing, skills, health and care.
North Lincolnshire Council leader, Cllr Liz Redfern, said: ‘Combined, we will be a much bigger force, with greater powers to deliver what’s needed locally.’
East Lindsey DC leader, Cllr Craig Leyland, added: ‘If supported, the deal unlocks the ability to make more decisions locally and thereby prioritise more government funding to meet local need.’
Mr Osborne said a ‘radical devolution of power so more of the responsibility and the rewards of economic growth are in the hands of local communities’ would help make Britain ‘fit for the future’.
He continued: ‘When I became Chancellor, 80% of local government funding came in largely ring-fenced grants from central government.
‘It was the illusion of local democracy.
‘By the end of this Parliament, 100% of local government resources will come from local government – raised locally, spent locally, invested locally.
‘Believing in our United Kingdom is not the same as believing that every decision should be taken here in London.
‘Because we know that if you want local communities to take responsibility for local growth they have to be able to reap the rewards.
‘The Government is delivering the most radical devolution of power in modern British history.
‘We’re making the Northern Powerhouse a reality and rebalancing our country.
‘North, south, east and west – the devolution revolution is taking hold.’ Mr Osborne also announced he would be opening talks on city deals for Edinburgh and Swansea, and on a growth deal for north Wales so it was ‘better connected to our Northern Powerhouse’.
Yesterday a £1.2bn City Deal - expected to deliver 25,000 new jobs and unlock £4bn of private sector investment – was announced for the Cardiff capital region.