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WMCA submits £8bn devolution plan to Government

WMCA submits £8bn devolution plan to Government

🕔04.Sep 2015

The shadow West Midlands combined authority said it was keeping an open mind on whether the region should have an elected metro mayor as it submitted a wide-ranging £8 billion devolution proposal to the Government.

A spokeswoman said WMCA was discussing “the most appropriate governance structures” with ministers including the mayor option.

However, the body’s acting chair Cllr Bob Sleigh told Chamberlain Files the West Midlands would require a mayor to get maximum devolution.

The submission to the Treasury proposes areas where WMCA could benefit from devolved powers and budgets, but the precise details are being kept under wraps while negotiations continue with the Chancellor.

The spokeswoman said the proposals support the WMCA’s overall aims of closing both the productivity and the public spending gap, alongside working with the NHS and police and extending a collaborative hand to the region’s third sector to use public sector reform to explore innovative programmes of joint working.

They include:

  • Significant devolution of funding and financial flexibilities to support a locally controlled ten year investment fund totalling around £8 billion. This will be used to take forward a transport investment plan and explore means of increasing the supply of new development land
  • Implementation of the HS2 Growth Strategy, including regeneration around the Curzon (Birmingham city centre) and Interchange HS2 stations
  • An integrated new employment and skills system for the West Midlands, supporting school leavers, helping more people into work and providing skills to match the needs of local businesses
  • Transformation of public services for “troubled individuals”, including support for people with mental health and reforms to the criminal justice system.

WMCA shadow board chair Cllr Bob Sleigh said:

As we have progressed with our proposals for devolved powers to the region we have had positive and constructive dialogue with government officials and we are optimistic that our submission to see powers moved from Westminster to the West Midlands will bear fruit.

We recognise that the government will be considering all budgets in the light of the Spending Review and that there may be benefits in agreeing an early deal.

The shadow board is ready to rise to the challenges regional devolution will bring to the region.  We will maximise the opportunities it offers to improve the outcomes for local people, our businesses and our shared future.

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