Ministers open pathway for departmental-style funding for all of Yorkshire

Yorkshire could be set for billions of pounds of devolved settlements after the Government opened up a clear pathway for the region’s four counties to take control over their future.

On Wednesday the Chancellor announced that combined authorities across the country will now have access to new “level 4” devolution deals which transfer greater powers away from Whitehall and into the hands of elected mayors.

The Yorkshire Post understands that the current leadership of the Yorkshire’s current mayoralities, as well as the frontrunners for those due to be set up in the next 18 months are keen to pursue these top-level devolution deals.

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According to Treasury documents, this would give the mayors of North, South, West and East Yorkshire pathways to departmental-style settlements that cover all devolved spending areas, akin to those enjoyed by the Greater Manchester and West Midlands “trailblazer deals”.

This could see South and West Yorkshire’s combined authorities have access to these powers and funding by the late 2020s, with settlements due to be formalised ahead of multi-year spending reviews.

North and East Yorkshire, which are due to elect a mayor in May 2024 and May 2025 respectively, may have to wait for a later spending review in order to build up a track record of delivery for the people in the region.

The total value settlements across all four counties could extend to billions of pounds, with analysis from the Institute for Government think tank predicting that Greater Manchester and the West Midlands would have received £1.5 billion in 2022/23/.

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Speaking to The Yorkshire Post during a visit to Pudsey in Leeds, Rishi Sunak said that officials in Government are “ready to engage in those discussions so people can apply for level 4 deals”.

“We’re keen to have those discussions as soon as possible,” he added.

“Devolution has actually been delivered by this government. That’s empowering local leaders across the North, particularly in Yorkshire, with the powers they need and the funding alongside that to deliver for their local communities, and it’s something we’re proud to be doing more of.”

It is understood that Labour will set a presumption towards handing power back to towns and cities which will offer all mayors the powers they need over planning, housing, transport, net zero and adult education.

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Keane Duncan, the North Yorkshire candidate for the Conservatives who hold the vast majority of seats in the county, said: “We shouldn’t settle for anything less than York & North Yorkshire’s fair share.

“That ultimately means us achieving equality with the trailblazer city regions - an end to the devolution postcode lottery, with even more matters determined locally.”

Cllr Mike Ross, the Liberal Democrat Leader of Hull City Council, whose party are seen as a frontrunner for the 2025 mayoralty following impressive local election results, said: “While Hull is still in the early stages of the process the Liberal Democrat’s are absolutely committed to making sure that people around here are no longer left behind and get the fair deal which gives our city a brighter future.

"It's vitally important the people of Hull have the final say on any deal, but this would be the first step that could see more come in the future with the potential for a level 4 deal at a later stage."

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Henri Murison, Chief Executive of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said “Moving to the next level in the devolution framework, at least for South and West Yorkshire, is a credible aim for this government to achieve by the next General Election.

“However, metro mayors still need more powers over tax and spending decisions.”

Akash Paun, Programme Director for Devolution at the Institute for Government: “While the continued progress is welcome, the reality is that devolution is a job half done at best, and there is a risk that the upcoming election and potential change of government might disrupt the process entirely.

“A firm cross-party commitment to further empowerment of local leaders across England is needed to give places like the four corners of Yorkshire certainty that their devolution journey will not be brought to an abrupt end.”