Historic devolution deals transfer building, regeneration and skills powers to level up Suffolk and Norfolk

  • Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove is in Bury St Edmunds and Norwich today to sign historic county devolution deals
  • Proposed deals see money and power leave Whitehall as new directly elected leaders are handed greater control of building, regeneration, and skills delivery
  • Over £1 billion will be guaranteed to Suffolk and Norfolk to invest in their communities
  • More than 50% of England will now be covered by a directly elected leader – showing important progress since the Levelling Up White Paper

Historic devolution deals which transfer money and power over building, regeneration and skills into the hands of local leaders in Suffolk and Norfolk will be signed by Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove today.

Suffolk and Norfolk will be devolved power over their Adult Education budget, so they can shape provision in a way that best suits the needs of residents and the local community, get immediate support to build new affordable homes on brownfield sites, handed new powers to help drive regeneration, and receive more capital funding to spend as they see fit.

The deals will also see well over a billion pounds combined handed out to Suffolk and Norfolk, with the huge investment funds guaranteed for the next three decades. This will give each region the ability to drive growth and plan for the long-term with certainty as they look to level up and unlock their economic potential.

From May 2024, both counties will directly elect the leader of the council, which not only provides a single person accountable to local people but gives them a champion for their areas who can attract investment and be a stronger voice in discussions with central government.

The Levelling Up Secretary will attend signing ceremonies in both Suffolk and Norfolk as he continues to lead the government’s devolution revolution. Last week saw Cornwall sign its own devolution deal with the government, unlocking powers and long-term funding of £360 million. Deals agreed with Suffolk and Norfolk mean that 50% of England will now be covered by a devolution deal and reaffirms the government’s commitment in the Levelling Up White Paper to offer a devolution deal to any area that wants one by 2030.

Speaking ahead of deal signing ceremonies in Suffolk and Norfolk today, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove MP said:

Empowering strong local leadership is key to levelling up and ensuring we spread opportunity and unlock the economic potential of communities across the country.

I am delighted to sign two further historic deals for Suffolk and Norfolk that will see communities handed hundreds of millions of pounds to use as they – not Whitehall – see fit.

Ultimately it is local people who know what is best for their areas and it is my job to make sure local leaders have the levers to address the issues unique to them.

Cllr Matthew Hicks, Leader of Suffolk County Council, said:

This devolution deal is the first of its kind between the Government and a county council, making it a truly historic moment for Suffolk. The deal recognises Suffolk’s ambitions, would put more powers in the hands of local people and bring more than half a billion pounds of investment into the county.

On the table are greater decision-making powers around transport, infrastructure, skills and more resources to help us achieve our net zero ambitions. Ultimately, this significant additional investment will improve the lives and outcomes of Suffolk’s residents.

Devolution is a journey, not a one-off event. This deal for Suffolk is the first step towards an exciting future for our great county.

Norfolk County Council leader, Councillor Andrew Proctor, said:

I’m delighted that Norfolk is well positioned to gain additional powers and money to improve people’s lives, thanks to the County Deal we have agreed in principle with the Government.

The aim is for decisions and funding previously controlled in Westminster to be agreed in Norfolk, for Norfolk.

Striking a deal will help us to boost our economy through jobs, training, housing and development, to improve our transport network and to support our environment.

Getting to this point shows that the Government sees Norfolk as a can-do county. I’m confident that we can make a success of this and that more powers and funding would follow.

The proposed deals will include:

  • Suffolk deal: Suffolk will receive control of a £480 million investment fund over 30 years, as well as a multi-year transport settlement at the next Spending Review. The deal will unlock almost £6 million to regenerate brownfield land into affordable and beautiful homes, £3 million to improve energy efficiency and renewable generation in homes, and hand Suffolk greater compulsory purchase powers to help with regeneration. Suffolk will also be handed control over their Adult Education Budget.

  • Norfolk deal: Norfolk is set to receive a £600 million investment fund over the same period, with almost £7 million to support regeneration of brownfield sites into affordable and beautiful homes for local people. They will also receive £5.9 million of capital funding in this Spending Review period to support the delivery of housing, regeneration, and development priorities, as well as control over their Adult Education Budget.

These deals are just the first steps in transferring power away from Whitehall into areas that want them. The East Anglian agreements mean that six of 13 places invited to negotiate devolution deals in the Levelling Up White Paper have now signed agreements with government. Suffolk and Norfolk join Cornwall, York and North Yorkshire, and the East Midlands as areas who have signed devolution deals this year – these deals equate to another five million people being covered by a devolution deal in 2022 alone.

The new deals are now subject to local consultation, a council resolution to change their governance model so that electors directly elect the council leader, and elements, such as the transfer of new powers, require parliamentary approval to secondary legislation. The deals envisage the election of the directly elected leaders in May 2024. Subject to the passing of the relevant measures in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, Suffolk and Norfolk would call the directly elected person the “elected leader” of the County Council.

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