Devolution arrangements could boost the area’s economy by £8 million, create around 29,000 jobs and provide 100,000 new homes. The Chancellor announced the Greater Lincolnshire Combined Authority devolution agreement on 16 March 2016.
Important powers and funding will now be under the control of the Greater Lincolnshire area rather than under the control of the government. This will give the Greater Lincolnshire region significant new powers over transport, skills training, prison services and planning with issues such as housing and flood risk management with a directly elected mayor from the year of 2017. The government is offering places in England the chance to have greater responsibility and control over decisions and budgets in their region. The transferring of powers and decisions usually taken by central government to a regional level is called devolution.
Currently, decisions on spending affecting the Greater Lincolnshire area are made by the central government. The councils will continue in their current form, but they will also form a “combined authority” to exercise new powers. Other areas with devolved powers include Sheffield and Manchester. Lincolnshire County Council, North and North East Lincolnshire and the areas seven districts will each have to agree the deal following consultation with residents in summertime.
Greater Lincolnshire will receive control of a £15 million fund every year over 30 years to boost economic growth for new responsibilities. Other powers will include being responsible for developing a delivery plan to identify the infrastructure needed to support the increased delivery of new homes and also for overcoming long-term unemployment in Lincolnshire and the surrounding areas. The “combined authority” will feed into the national design of the new Work and Health Programme.
The government will work with the Combined Authority of Greater Lincolnshire to agree specific funding flexibilities. The plan will be to give the Combined Authority a single pot to invest in its economic growth, with contributions to the outcomes from the Water Resources Study, the Police and Crime Commissioners, local prisons, community rehabilitation with the intention of allowing flexibility of other local services.