Norfolk County Council is one of nine authorities invited to negotiate with the Government on a deal which could see significant powers and funding transferred to us.
It is part of the Government’s levelling up agenda, “to spread opportunity equally across the UK”. Read more about levelling up the United Kingdom on the GOV.UK website.
Why the Government wants to negotiate devolution deals
The Government says devolution will mean new 'County Deals' to take devolution beyond the largest cities, offering the rest of England the same powers metro mayors have gained over things like transport, skills and economic support.
“County Deals will be bespoke to the needs of individual places, bringing decisions closer to people and places, potentially allowing more places to benefit from strong, high profile local champions. County Deals will give places the tools they need to pilot new ideas, create jobs, drive growth and improve public services.”
The Local Government Association, which represents councils across the country, says: “We believe devolution is important because it ensures that decisions are made closer to the local people, communities and businesses they affect. Devolution will provide greater freedoms and flexibilities at a local level, meaning councils can work more effectively to improve public services for their area.
“The result will be more effective, better targeted public services, greater growth and stronger partnerships between public, private and community leaders in local areas.”
Read more about the new County Deals at GOV.UK.
Why Norfolk is negotiating
County Council leader Councillor Andrew Proctor briefed business leaders about the talks in his speech to the Royal Norfolk Show on 29 June 2022.
He said a County Deal could help the Council to deliver the priorities of its strategy, Better Together for Norfolk.
Cllr Proctor said: “We are negotiating with Government on a new devolution deal which could see Norfolk gain additional powers and funding to improve people’s lives.
“Norfolk is one of only nine counties invited to take part in these talks so far. That shows how Government are seeing Norfolk as a can-do county.”
The aims of a deal
Cllr Proctor said that, supporting the Government’s levelling up agenda, the aims of a deal are:
- Transforming our economy, by creating new jobs, improving skills and attracting inward investment
- Raising living standards and reducing inequalities and poverty
- Providing better local services and quality affordable housing
- Preserving and protecting the natural environment and supporting the move to net zero
The difference a deal could make
Cllr Proctor said that, if the negotiations are successful, it could make a big difference to Norfolk, enabling the County Council to:
- Target much needed funding and resources to our own priorities
- Attract and retain new and key businesses and sectors
- Invest in the skills we know we need
- Unlock housing and employment sites
- Increase our contribution to the UK economy
- Raise our profile nationally, enabling our voice to be heard by Government and help shape future policies
Norfolk could benefit from millions of pounds of additional investment each year plus more certainty and control over longer term funding through:
- A long term investment fund, with an agreed annual allocation
- Multi-year transport funding
- Control of local development on brownfield sites
- Design and delivery of employment projects
Cllr Proctor said, in his speech: “Experience from other areas that secured devolution deals a few years ago show that initial deals can open the door to receiving further powers, money and influence.
“We are working closely with key partners such as district councils, businesses and other bodies, to make the most of any new powers and funding that come into Norfolk as a result of a deal.”
A deal would not mean changes to Norfolk’s councils
The Government is clear that this is not about local government reorganisation and so the County Council will continue to work closely with Norfolk’s district, town and parish councils.
Businesses and other partners can get involved in the County Deal
The County Council is committed to working closely with key partners such as district councils, businesses and other bodies, to make the most of any new powers and funding that come into Norfolk as a result of a deal.
When devolution could start
Negotiations are continuing and timescales will become clearer when we get to the point of finalising a deal – hopefully later in 2022. Check back here for updates.