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English Devolution and Local Recovery: White Paper

Volume 681: debated on Monday 5 October 2020

The Government intend to bring forward the English devolution and local recovery White Paper in due course, setting out how we will partner with places across the UK to build a sustainable economic recovery. I was very pleased to see that the parliamentary order to implement the Sheffield city region deal in law was made in July, and I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on all his work and support in finally reaching that significant milestone in his work so far as Mayor.

I am grateful to the Minister for his response. He will know that devolution has the power to transform people’s lives and local economies, but as a Mayor, it too often feels like I do not yet have the powers and resources to make transformative changes. The White Paper represents a golden opportunity to reset the dial, so does he agree that to properly empower local and regional leaders, the Government should commit to place-based, multi-year, flexible budgets so that we can better deliver for our communities?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. I was delighted to meet him and nine colleagues from across the country to discuss their representations about the upcoming White Paper. We are genuinely pleased with the combined authority Mayors and the progress that they are making, but of course, we recognise that there is more to do. We will publish the White Paper in due course.

In the 2019 Conservative manifesto, the Government promised that every part of the country would have the powers to shape their own destiny. Given the broken promises that councils have had from the Government recently, can the Minister confirm that the White Paper honours that manifesto pledge, and that local leaders will have the powers to decide what works best for their communities?

I am not exactly sure what promise the hon. Lady was referring to, but we have certainly kept our promises to protect councils during this pandemic by providing them with billions of pounds of funding to support their covid response. We see the devolution and local recovery White Paper as an exciting opportunity to lay out our plans for devolution in this Parliament. We will bring it forward in due course, and I am very happy to listen to her representations about what should be in it.