Combined authorities are legal bodies made up of two or more councils working together across council boundaries. In most cases a combined authority is headed by a mayor who is elected by residents of the area, and the authority takes on certain powers which are devolved from government. Local enterprise partnerships (LEPs), introduced in 2010, are joint local authority-business bodies designed to promote local economic growth.
The manifesto contains many promises to expand and enhance the devolution of powers away from central government to English regions (see “Related Policies” below), and this is a pledge to foster local economic growth through combined authorities, mayoralties and LEPs.
As required under the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016, the government provided an annual report on devolution in March 2019, describing progress over the previous year. It mentions one new devolution deal for the North of Tyne and extensions to agreements with West Midlands and Greater Manchester. It also outlines several pieces of secondary legislation implemented to transfer functions previously exercised by government ministers.
In July 2018, following a policy review, the government published a document called Strengthened Local Enterprise Partnerships. It promised to support LEPs to develop Local Industrial Strategies, a process which has begun, with an aim to “agree all places’ Local Industrial Strategies in England by early 2020”.
There is continued government support for combined authorities and ongoing development of LEPs, but until there is firm evidence that the issues with LEPs flagged by the NAO are not hindering “local growth”, this pledge remains ‘in progress’. We’ll keep tracking. Follow this policy for future developments.
Get the details
- Combined authorities – Local Government Association
- Directly elected mayors – Local Government Association
- Devolution to local government in England – Parliament.uk
- Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016 – Gov.uk
- Secretary of State’s Annual Report on Devolution – Gov.uk
- Strengthened Local Enterprise Partnerships – Gov.uk
- Local Industrial Strategies: policy prospectus – Gov.uk
- Local Industrial Strategies to drive growth across the country – Gov.uk
- Local Enterprise Partnerships: an update on progress – National Audit Office
- Move functions of central government out to cities
- Provide a common devolution framework for authorities in England
- Support the adoption of elected mayors for combined authorities in cities
- Give legal backing to enterprise partnerships
- Work closely with the devolved parliaments and authorities
- Address concerns about the fairness of local government funding
- Give local government greater control over the money they raise
- Allow partnerships and combined authorities co-ordinate their own industrial strategy
- Fund growth via combined authorities and partnerships
- Consult widely on the design of the Shared Prosperity Fund
- Devolve more criminal justice responsibility and budgets to local commissioners