House of Commons Library

Devolution to local government in England

Published Wednesday, May 9, 2018

This Commons Library briefing paper summarises the main developments regarding the process of devolution of powers to local government within England since 2014. It covers the devolution deals agreed between the Government and local areas up to July 2016, including the powers to be devolved, the procedures required for devolution to take place, and reactions to the policy from the local government and policy-making worlds.

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This note addresses the debate around devolution of power to local government in England. Local government is a devolved matter in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The first ‘devolution deal’ was announced by the Government and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority in November 2014. In advance of the 2015 general election, further deals followed with Sheffield (December 2014) and West Yorkshire (March 2015). As of March 2016, devolution deals with twelve areas have been agreed. Discussions have also taken place on further devolution to Greater London.

Table 1 in the PDF sets out the details of the devolution deals agreed as of March 2016, including links where available. Details of the local authorities involved in each devolution deal area can be found in Appendix 2 of the PDF.

The devolution deals agreed to date can be characterised as consisting of a ‘menu with specials’. A number of items have been made available to most areas, but each deal also contains a few unique elements or ‘specials’ (typically consisting of commitments to explore future policy options).

The sections in the PDF outline the nature of the ‘menu’ powers that have been made available to most of these areas. The exact nature of the powers devolved can be seen in the deal documents.

The devolution deals agreed so far have many similarities in terms of powers to be devolved. The core powers devolved include the following:

  • Restructuring the further education system
  • Business support
  • The Work and Health Programme
  • EU structural funds
  • Transforming Cities funding
  • Fiscal powers
  • Planning and land use

The Commons Library has also published notes on:


Commons Briefing papers SN07029

Author: Mark Sandford

Topics: Devolution, Local government

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