WMCA ratifies deeper devolution deal
27th October 2023
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The deeper devolution deal, approved at this morning’s WMCA board meeting in Birmingham,contains over 190 commitments which establishes a special relationship between the West Midlands and central government. 


The total value of the deal to the region is estimated at £1.5 billion, and will put more cash and power in the hands of local leaders to invest in the priorities that local communities care about, such as timely bus and train services, skills, and housing. 


Under the Deeper Devolution Deal – announced by Government in March’s Spring Budget the WMCAwill see a new long-term funding settlement for the region that will enable the Mayor and local councils to plan with certainty for the long term and unlock tangible benefits for almost three million people living in the WMCA area. 


Other highlights of the devolution deal include:  


  • A landmark housing deal worth up to £500 million, offering greater flexibility to drive brownfield regeneration and unique powers and funding to deliver affordable housing at pace.
  • Greater control over local finances, including retention of business rates for the next 10 years – worth an estimated £45 million a year to the WMCA and local authorities.
  • Up to six levelling up zones, backed by 25-year business rate retention, with an expected total value to the region of at least £500 million, to target investment and encourage jobs and regeneration in areas agreed between the WMCA and government.
  • Measures to tackle digital exclusion including greater influence over high-speed broadband investment across the region and a £4 million fund for devices and data to get more people online.
  • Greater local responsibility for developing and delivering careers advice and a partnership with Department for Work and Pensions to target employment support.
  • Devolution of the bus service operators grant and a new partnership with Great British Railways to offer greater local oversight and control of public transport services.
  • The UK’s first formally designated transport sandbox to deliver cleaner and safer vehicles and innovative transport services to our streets faster while supporting new jobs and investment.
  • A commitment to devolve retrofit funding from 2025, to allow the WMCA, and partners, to set local priorities for investment in insulation and green energy for homes.
  • A commitment to a new partnership with national arts and culture organisations to shape their investment in regional cultural priorities.


Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA Chair, said: “This £1.5 billion Deeper Devolution Deal marks a step change in the relationship between Whitehall and the West Midlands - with the Single Settlement putting us on similar footing to a government department and empowering our region’s local leaders to allocate funds in the way they determine will best serve local people. 


“This Deeper Devolution Deal builds on the previous deals we’ve struck with government - granting us greater control over key areas like transport, housing and regeneration. 


“It marks the beginning of the end of what I’ve described in the past as the ‘begging bowl culture’ where we must regularly submit bids for various pots of money on a piecemeal basis. With this Deeper Devolution Deal, government is placing its trust in us and ushering in an era of greater responsibility - and accountability - for the WMCA to deliver further in the months and years ahead.” 


A special feature of the devolution deal includesa Single Settlement, where for the first time, a region will be treated as if it were a government department, enabling the region to prioritise, target and decide how funding is spent in key areas from the next spending review onwards.


Currently, the WMCA receives funding through a myriad of government pots each with different time scales and overlapping accountability. Instead, the governmentwe will allocate the Single Settlementto the West Midlands and give local leaders greater flexibility and more control to deliver projects and initiatives aligned to local needs. 


The new settlement will also reduce pressures on officer time from making repeat bids into national funding competitions. The deal createsthe opportunity to createsix new, locally designed, levelling up zones. These areas will be able to retain business rate growth for 25 years – driving further private investment, economic growth and genuine levelling up outcomes.


The zones will feature alongside the government’sinvestment zone programme,will boost the region’s advanced manufacturing sector. 


If proposals are accepted by government, these programmes around business rates and other incentives, will begin in April 2024.  


Councillor Sharon Thompson, deputy leader of Birmingham city council and portfolio holder for levelling up and devolution said: “This is a significant moment that comes after many months of hard work by the Combined Authority and its constituent members. This is an important step on our journey to get the powers and resources that we need to bring greater prosperity to the communities that we have been elected to serve. 


“This deal is potentially worth over £1.5 billion for our region, and this resource – and the new flexibilities in the deal – will help us achieve our shared objectives for local transport, affordable housing, skills and inclusive economic growth.” 


In return for the deeper devolution deal, the government has set out its expectations around the measures the region should put in place to receive such powers to further enhance accountability. 


Both the Mayor and WMCA portfolio leads will be expected to present to Parliamentary Select Committees as requested, in conjunction with Mayor’s Question Time - where the Mayor will be expected to visit all parts of constituent councils to take questions from the public - and quarterly engagement with West Midlands MPs. 




Billions of pounds are being invested by the WMCA to improve the region’s transport network, transform its derelict industrial land into new homes and workplaces, support existing businesses and help grow the innovative, green industries of the future.

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