Frequently asked questions on the devolution deal, the process and what it means for us as a region
- What is a devolution deal?
A devolution deal is a way groups of councils agree with Government to take greater control over funding for their area and take more major decisions, currently taken in London, locally.
- Who has agreed it?
The Leaders of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield have agreed a devolution deal with the Government. The deal will now be the subject of a public consultation and will be formally considered by each council before the legal measures necessary to put the deal into practice are taken.
- What does this mean for people who live and work here?
This is a deal that guarantees long term funding that will allow us to invest in public transport, support business, improve skills and living standards while tackling the climate emergency. It will mean more of the decisions with major impacts on our region which are currently taken in London will be taken here. And it means being at the front of the queue for future powers and funding.
- How will it work?
The five West Yorkshire authorities already work together through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. The devolution deal represents the next step forward in that partnership working. The biggest change will be the creation of a directly-elected Mayor who will take decisions with members of the Combined Authority.
- What area will it cover?
The deal covers the West Yorkshire local authority areas with York remaining a non-constituent member of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
- Why do we need a Mayor?
The mayor will be a metro mayor. Metro mayors work with combined authorities to exercise powers at a regional level and have an enhanced relationship with Government. Through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, partner authorities already work together to make decisions at a regional level but Government believes the public should be able to directly elect a mayor to ensure accountability for the additional powers and funding made available through devolution deals.
- What powers will the Mayor have?
The Mayor will chair the Combined Authority. Their specific powers will include the ability to set a precept on council tax and charge a business rate supplement subject to a ballot. They will also have transport powers including to draw up a local transport plan and implement bus franchising. It is expected the Mayor will assume powers currently exercised by the Police and Crime Commissioner in 2024. The planned Police and Crime Commissioner election in May will go-ahead as planned.
- Who will choose the Mayor?
The Mayor will be elected by the people of West Yorkshire.
- When will the Mayor be elected?
The first mayoral election is expected to take place in May 2021. The Mayor’s first term will run until 2024. After that they will serve four-year terms.
- Why will it be called the West Yorkshire devolution deal?
The name reflects the area the Mayor’s powers will cover and the communities that will elect them. York will continue to be a non-constituent member of the Combined Authority. We will continue to work with our neighbours in the Leeds City Region and support that brand which we know is highly valued by our business community, particularly in terms of attracting inward investment.
- Will this cost more?
As part of the devolution deal, funding has been secured towards the additional costs of the new arrangements. The Mayor will have limited tax-raising powers and will be accountable to the electorate for that decision and how that money is spent.
- Will this mean more politicians?
The new arrangements will be similar to the existing West Yorkshire Combined Authority which draws the membership of its committees from the councillors in its partner authorities. The only additional political representative will be the Mayor.
- What does this mean for existing councils?
Councils will continue to have the responsibilities they do now, providing vital services to their communities and championing their towns, rural communities and cities. This is about moving powers and money from Whitehall to the Leeds City Region for the benefit of all our communities.
- What does this mean for York?
York will continue to be a non-constituent member of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, working in partnership with West Yorkshire to deliver for the city through the Leeds City Region Growth Deal and West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund.
- Why are the police and crime commission and fire authority functions part of this deal? What does this mean for the role of Police and Crime commissioner?
The creation of an elected Mayor creates the opportunity to transition the current PCC powers and structures set out in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, while maintaining the crucially important democratic accountability to local communities, similar to the Greater Manchester and London models.
The scheduled Police and Crime Commissioner election will go ahead in May. It is expected they will serve a three-year term with their functions assumed by the Mayor following the May 2024 elections.
- Does this mean bus franchising will go-ahead?
The West Yorkshire Combined Authority was already considering the possible implications of bus franchising in anticipation that a devolution deal was agreed. Metro-mayors have greater powers in this area but it remains a complex process. Any decision to go ahead will be a matter for the Mayor and the Combined Authority.
- What is the alternative to agreeing this deal?
The devolution deal offers the region a new relationship with Government and significant and secure funding to invest in better public transport, improving skills, supporting business, attracting jobs and tackling the climate emergency. It also provides much greater freedom to take important decisions that impact on our communities. The alternative to the deal is uncertainty over future investment as current funding comes to an end.
- Is this the end of Yorkshire devolution?
We’ve made huge progress in convincing the Government about the benefits of working together at a Yorkshire-level to maximise the benefits of our global brand, coherent economy and shared identity to deliver growth for our communities and the UK economy. The West Yorkshire Devolution Deal includes £200,000 funding to support the work of the Yorkshire Leaders Board.