House of Commons Library

Combined authorities

Published Wednesday, January 20, 2016

This briefing note outlines the origins and structures of combined authorities, which will handle many of the 'devolution deals' agreed between the Government and local areas in England.

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Combined authorities are a legal structure that may be set up by local authorities in England. They can be set up with or without a directly-elected mayor. The relevant legislation is the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 and the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016.

Combined authorities may be set up by two or more local authorities. They may take on statutory functions transferred to them by an Order made by the Secretary of State, plus any functions that the constituent authorities agree to share.

The first combined authority to be established was the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, in 2011. Further combined authorities were established in the North-East, West Yorkshire, Sheffield and Liverpool in April 2014.

In 2014-16, the Government has negotiated ‘devolution deals’ with several areas. Each of the existing combined authorities has negotiated a deal. New mayoral combined authorities have been proposed in the Tees Valley, West Midlands, and (in draft form) the ‘North Midlands’ (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire). Liverpool, Greater Manchester, Sheffield and the North-East will introduce a directly-elected mayor as part of their devolution deal.

Orders implementing the devolution deals are anticipated during 2016. Further details of this process can be found in the Library briefing paper Devolution to local government in England.

Orders establishing these devolution deals are anticipated when the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill receives Royal Assent. The Library has produced a background briefing on the Bill and on its progress through Parliament.

Commons Briefing papers SN06649

Author: Mark Sandford

Topics: Devolution, Local government, Public administration

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