About This Blog

The public should know all we can about the business of the decision makers that affect our lives, our wallets and our democracy. This is a record of my efforts to try and improve the levels of transparency and accountability within Sheffield City Council and others. To shine a light on how decisions are made and where the money goes. If I can also help others to find their own voice and influence along the way, then that is a bonus.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Sheffield City Region signs 'Devolution' deal, by Nigel Slack

The Sheffield City Region 'devolution' deal has been signed.

Actually, not so much. The signing ceremony, conducted in the full glare of publicity the other day, was really more for the Chancellor's benefit than a done deal. There is an agreement in principle but it is more of an 'if, then' agreement. In other words, if the members of the City Region Combined Authority agree to all the options within the offer (including the directly elected Mayor), then they will receive the extra powers and responsibilities. If not, the deal will be off or at least renegotiated.

I'm not going to go into great detail here, because we don't have all the detail yet, just some outline proposals, but I've included some press coverage for you to look at and when you do I'd like you to bear in mind one or two points.

Firstly, almost all the money on offer for the City Region is dependent on the delivery by them of Central Government policies. Whether that is in terms of new housing targets, Economic development or the implementation of the 'Welfare to Work' programmes.

Secondly, many of the budgets being made the responsibility of the City Region are those likely to suffer significant cuts going forward. The new powers over business rates will phase out any redistributive element, potentially hitting the poorest towns and districts hardest.

Thirdly, we the public have had no say in this so called 'devolution' plan yet. Whether we want a Mayor or not, it will not be our choice. The change is being done to us rather than by us. It is also a deal that can be taken away at the next change of government, or the next change of party political whim by the current one.

Needless to say I and my colleagues in Sheffield for Democracy will be trying to keep a close eye on this one and hope to ensure a comprehensive consultation with the public takes place before it comes to the City Council for their decision.

Sheffield Star 'Devolution' Article 2nd October 2015

The Guardian 'Sheffield second Northern Powerhouse' Article 1st October 2015

Citymetric Business rate Reform Post 9th October 2015

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