Dan Peters 15 March 2023

Budget 2023: Hunt to boost mayors' financial autonomy

Budget 2023: Hunt to boost mayors financial autonomy image
Image: Gints Ivuskans / Shutterstock.com.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has announced the Government will ‘boost mayors’ financial autonomy’ in his Budget.

Announcing ‘trailblazer deals’ for the West Midlands and Greater Manchester combined authorities that will give them greater control over transport, skills, employment, housing, innovation and net zero, Mr Hunt said single, multi-year funding settlements would be introduced for the two regions at the next Spending Review.

New powers for the two regions will include a greater role in ‘simplifying and integrating’ ticketing in transport systems and a long-term commitment to local authorities retaining 100% of their business rates.

Ministers have said the ‘trailblazer deals will act as a blueprint for other areas to follow’ and the Government was in ‘discussions with places to identify potential candidates for new devolution deals’ across England this year.

Budget documents read: ‘The single funding settlements will give the trailblazer MCAs [mayoral combined authorities] the flexibility and independence they need to deliver for their areas.

‘The Government’s ambition is to roll this model out to all areas in England with a devolution deal and directly-elected leader over time.’

The Government had been in talks with Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and West Midlands Mayor Andy Street to devolve powers.

Mr Hunt said the Government was handing ‘more control to local communities over economic delivery so we can level up everywhere’.

Budget documents said devolution would ‘give local leaders the tools they need to drive change in their areas’.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook, a minister in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said: ‘We want to see every part of England reap the benefits of devolution and have made significant progress with the six new deals announced in 2022.

‘This Government is committed to not just extending the benefits of devolution to new parts of England, but to deepening existing devolution settlements.

‘For too long, decisions impacting many communities of England have been taken in Whitehall.

'Devolution is about giving local areas more flexibility, freedom and accountability to deliver.’

The Government has said that by 2030 every part of England that wants one will have a devolution deal.

Mr Hunt also announced a number of regeneration projects and levelling up partnerships, which will provide more than £400m of investment in 20 areas across England.

This article was originally published by The MJ (£).

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