Combined authority to seek greater powers from government

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) is to seek additional powers from the government after missing out on a bespoke ‘trailblazer’ deal handed to Greater Manchester.

In February 2022, the government published the Levelling Up White Paper which promised deeper devolution to those parts of the country that wanted it. So far, specially made deals were awarded to our neighbours down the M62 and in the West Midlands, as well as three new combined authorities in May this year.

Despite the disappointment of not being handed further scope from Westminster, the LCRCA is expected to agree to a new slate of abilities for the first time in almost a decade.

When the combined authority meets to sign off its budget proposals for the coming financial year on Friday, leaders will also be asked to agree to proposals to access powers through the Level 4 devolution framework, which it says will offer a further opportunity to draw powers down from government to the city region.

It is thought adopting the new powers, which would include greater autonomy over investment spending, housing, service delivery and health, represents a major step since the first devolution agreements were signed in 2015 and 2016.

A report to go before council leaders later this week said: “The government’s commitment to deeper devolution is, therefore, welcome. It is, however, disappointing that the Liverpool City Region hasn’t been offered a “trailblazer” deal similar to Greater Manchester and West Midlands given the city region’s ambitions and its delivery record using its devolved powers.”

The analysis said adoption of further control from government would signal to Westminster that “the Liverpool City Region continues to be an ambitious mayoral combined authority which wishes to be at the forefront of the devolution agenda with a strong desire to take greater control of more powers and resources in order to deliver for its communities.”

Should councillors agree the proposals, the secretary of state will consider this application and respond in correspondence to Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram before mid-March ahead of this year’s election.

Mr Rotheram said, “As Mayor, it’s my duty to ensure that every penny we spend not only delivers value for money, but positively impacts the communities I am so proud to represent. It’s not lost on me that households across our area have seen their budgets stretched to breaking point over the last few years and we’re continuing to do what we can to protect them from the worst excesses of the cost-of-living crisis, including freezing the council tax precept for the fifth consecutive year.

“Despite a challenging economic climate and 14 years of biting austerity, I’m confident that our region is moving towards a brighter future.”

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