A ‘DEEPER Devolution Deal’ between the West Midlands Combined Authority and the government has been ratified, marking a major shift in power, funding and responsibility from Whitehall to the region.

The deeper devolution deal, approved at WMCA board meeting in Birmingham on Friday October 13, establishes a special relationship between the West Midlands and central government.

The total value of the deal to the region is estimated at £1.5 billion, and will put more cash and power in the hands of local leaders to invest in the priorities that communities care about, such as timely bus and train services, skills, and housing.

Under the deal – announced by Government in March’s Spring Budget – the WMCA will see a new long-term funding settlement for the region that will enable the Mayor and local councils to plan for the long term and unlock tangible benefits for people living in the WMCA area.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chairperson, said: “This £1.5 billion Deeper Devolution Deal marks a step change in the relationship between Whitehall and the West Midlands - with the Single Settlement putting us on similar footing to a government department and empowering our region’s local leaders to allocate funds in the way they determine will best serve local people.

“This Deeper Devolution Deal builds on the previous deals we’ve struck with government - granting us greater control over key areas like transport, housing and regeneration.

“It marks the beginning of the end of what I’ve described in the past as the ‘begging bowl culture’ where we must regularly submit bids for various pots of money on a piecemeal basis. With this Deeper Devolution Deal, government is placing its trust in us and ushering in an era of greater responsibility - and accountability - for the WMCA to deliver further in the months and years ahead.”

A feature of the deal includes a Single Settlement, where for the first time, a region will be treated as if it were a government department, enabling the region to prioritise, target and decide how funding is spent in key areas from the next spending review onwards.

Currently, the WMCA receives funding through various government pots each with different time scales and overlapping accountability. Instead, the government we will allocate the Single Settlement to the West Midlands and give local leaders greater flexibility and control to deliver projects and initiatives aligned to local needs.

The new settlement will also reduce pressures on officer time from making repeat bids into national funding competitions. The deal creates chance to create six new, locally-designed, levelling up zones which will be able to retain business rate growth for 25 years – driving private investment, economic growth and genuine levelling up outcomes.

If proposals are accepted by government, the programmes around business rates and other incentives, will begin in April 2024.

In return for the deeper devolution deal, the government has set out its expectations around the measures the region should put in place to receive such powers to further enhance accountability.

Both the Mayor and WMCA portfolio leads will be expected to present to Parliamentary Select Committees as requested, in conjunction with Mayor’s Question Time - where the Mayor will be expected to visit all parts of constituent councils to take questions from the public - and quarterly engagement with West Midlands MPs.