Greg Clark (Tunbridge Wells, Conservative)
The Government are today announcing a second wave of city deals, inviting a further 20 cities and their wider areas to negotiate for the devolution of the specific powers, resources and responsibilities required to deliver their locally-determined economic priorities.
The first wave of city deals involved the eight largest English cities outside London. In order to support our dual objectives of rebalancing the economy and boosting private sector growth, we are going to invite the next 14 largest cities, together with the six cities with the highest population growth, to participate in the second wave.
We will ask each of these cities to work across their functional economic area to put forward proposals for: the Black Country, Bournemouth, Brighton and Hove, Greater Cambridge, Coventry and Warwickshire, Hull and Humber, Ipswich, Leicester and Leicestershire, Milton Keynes, Greater Norwich, Oxford and Central Oxfordshire, Reading, Plymouth, Preston and Lancashire, Southampton and Portsmouth, Southend, Stoke and Staffordshire, Sunderland and the North East, Swindon and Wiltshire, and Tees Valley.
This second wave of city deals will build on the success of the first wave, accelerating the pace of decentralisation and unlocking new and innovative ways to drive local economic growth. Deals will represent a genuine transaction between cities and Government, with “asks” and “offers” from both sides.
Each city and their local enterprise partnership will be invited to put forward a landmark proposal to address a significant local economic issue which requires a transformative response. These bespoke arrangements will be complemented by a “core package”, consisting of measures that will devolve significant powers and functions to all cities and their wider areas that go on to negotiate a deal with Government. This will capitalise on the progress we have made so far, demonstrating our commitment to the devolution of powers from central to local government, if local areas are willing to offer significant reform in return.
There will be an element of competition in wave two, with the 20 cities being given up until
i. to make proposals for stronger governance across their functional economic area, so that decisions necessary for the growth of the area as a whole can be taken quickly and effectively;
ii. to include proposals for harnessing significantly greater private sector input, expertise and resources;
ii. to demonstrate strong political commitment and readiness to put resources into delivering the deal;
iv. to present proposals that are consistent with the need to drive efficiency in the use of public money in the area, doing more with less, in pursuit of our medium-term goal to eliminate the deficit; and
v. to propose reforms for their area which represent the leading edge of the Government’s general economic strategy—to reduce regulation, create well functioning markets, promote an enabling environment for business and boost private sector growth and investment.
We will engage directly with leaders across cities and local enterprise partnerships, advancing only those that have the strongest propositions.
Alongside the city deals process the Government will work with all local enterprise partnerships, beyond those in the first and second waves of the city deals programme, to identify and respond to barriers which may be constraining immediate growth in their area.