Levelling Up Secretary & West Midlands Mayor sign trailblazing devolution deal

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The devolution deal sees biggest ever shift of powers and funding from Whitehall to an English region

The Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove, and Mayor Andy Street have signed a landmark deeper devolution deal for the West Midlands.

The government says the deal marks a ‘seismic shift in power, funding and responsibility from Whitehall to the region’. This is because the deal puts more cash and power in the hands of local leaders which they say will enable them to invest in the priorities that local communities truly care about - such as better bus and train services, skills and housing.

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And with the West Midlands’ bus strike beginning its second day today (Tuesday, March 21) it is quite an apt summarisation of local needs. The Department for Levelling Up further explained that the new long-term funding settlement will enable the Mayor and local councils to plan for the long term, with certainty - and unlock tangible benefits for the West Midlands population of almost three million.

What details are in the West Midlands devolution deal?

The deal confirmed on Monday (March 20) deepens existing powers which, the government says, have already delivered significant wins for the region. New measures include:

  • A new long-term funding settlement, including the right to retain 100% of business rates for 10 years.
  • A wide-ranging partnership with Homes England, with a commitment to work towards investing £400m in the West Midlands by 2026.
  • Further support for regeneration and infrastructure with £100m of brownfield funding and £60 million of investment in the metro line extension from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill.
  • Levelling up zones, backed by 25-year business rate retention, to generate jobs and investment.
  • Greater control over public transport with a new rail partnership with Great British Railways and the devolution of the payment of the bus service operators grant.
  • The establishment of a transport ‘sandbox’ to put the West Midlands at the forefront of transport innovation, with additional commitments to a new Strategic Innovation Partnership and better access to finance for local businesses.
  • More oversight and control over adult skills funding and more responsibility over developing and delivering careers advice.
  • Devolution of funding to retrofit buildings, to bring down energy bills for households across the West Midlands.
  • A new partnership with national arts and culture organisations to harness the West Midlands’ globally renowned cultural strengths.
  • Tools to support the roll-out of high-speed broadband across the region and £4 million for devices and data to get more people online.

Alongside these powers, a new framework will ensure that decision-makers in areas with devolution deals are accountable to their residents and deliver value for money, with a clear ladder of intervention to respond to underperformance.

The milestone comes days after the West Midlands was announced as one of 12 new Investment Zone areas backed with £80 million over five years including generous tax incentives to drive local growth.

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Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove and West Midlands Mayor Andy Street sign devolution dealLevelling Up Secretary Michael Gove and West Midlands Mayor Andy Street sign devolution deal
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove and West Midlands Mayor Andy Street sign devolution deal

What has Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said about the deal in his own words?

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said: “Visionary local leaders like Andy Street understand the needs of their areas better than decision-makers in Whitehall - that is why it is vital that we put more power and control in their hands.

“This deal goes further than we’ve ever gone before. It will give the Mayor unprecedented power to spend on local priorities and more control over transport, skills and housing – the things people truly care about. Today marks a bold new frontier in devolution in this country, and it’s fantastic to see the West Midlands right at the forefront.”

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Levelling Up Secretary Michael GoveWest Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove

What has West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said about the devolution deal in his own words?

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, said:“This is a truly landmark moment for our region as this Deeper Devolution Deal has resulted in Whitehall granting significant powers and funding to the West Midlands - recognising the importance of local leaders on the ground having greater financial autonomy and decision-making authority.

“Team West Midlands has worked incredibly hard to agree the best possible deal for our residents, having earned the trust of the Government thanks to our track record of delivery since the formation of the Combined Authority.

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“Devolution is very much a journey and our task now is to work together to show the further trust placed in us is well founded. I want to pay tribute to the Prime Minister, Chancellor and Secretary of State for Levelling Up for their vision and bravery in making this deal happen. Together, we can continue to improve quality of life for local people right across our region in the months and years ahead.”

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