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Devolution to the East Midlands

How would devolution to the East Midlands work?

The main Market Square in Nottingham, with Nottingham Council House building behind.
Council House in Nottingham. The East Midlands Combined County Authority will bring together four upper-tier local authorities: Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire county councils, and Derby and Nottingham city councils.

In August 2022, a devolution deal was agreed between the UK government and four local council leaders in the East Midlands to form a new East Midlands Combined County Authority (EMCCA). 50 Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, ‘East Midlands devolution deal’ Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, 30 August 2022, retrieved 15 November 2023, www.gov.uk/government/publications/east-midlands-devolution-deal/east-midlands-devolution-deal

This will be the first combined county authority (CCA) – a new legal entity made possible by the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023. Unlike most existing mayoral combined authorities, a CCA will cover more rural areas and can be agreed without the consent of district councils within the counties in question.

What is the East of Midlands Mayoral Combined County Authority?

EMCCA will be a legal body established by parliament that brings together four upper-tier local authorities: Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire county councils, and Derby and Nottingham city councils. Leicester city and Leicestershire county councils were initially envisaged as joining the EMCCA, but chose to negotiate for a separate county deal. 51 County devo talks descend into ‘dog’s breakfast’ Local Government Chronicle, 17 June 2022, retrieved 15 November 2023, www.lgcplus.com/politics/devolution-and-economic-growth/exclusive-county-devo-talks-descend-into-dogs-breakfast-17-06-2022

Each authority will be a ‘constituent member’, chaired by the new post of East Midlands mayor. Two designated representatives from each constituent  council will be able to vote on all decisions taken by the EMCCA board. 52 Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, ‘East Midlands devolution deal’ Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, 30 August 2022, retrieved 15 November 2023, www.gov.uk/government/publications/east-midlands-devolution-deal/east-midlands-devolution-deal para 16  Not counting the mayor, this means the authority will have four Labour representatives and four Conservative members at the time of its establishment. 

Additional non-constituent or ‘associate’ members will be able to be appointed by the EMCCA, and might include members from non-constituent councils such as district and borough councils or blue light services, health and business voices. 53 Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, ‘East Midlands devolution deal’ Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, 30 August 2022, retrieved 15 November 2023, www.gov.uk/government/publications/east-midlands-devolution-deal/east-midlands-devolution-deal paras 17–18  These members may be able to vote on given issues. 54 Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, ‘East Midlands devolution deal’ Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, 30 August 2022, retrieved 15 November 2023, www.gov.uk/government/publications/east-midlands-devolution-deal/east-midlands-devolution-deal para 17

Following consultation by local authorities in spring 2023, each local authority will vote on whether to accept the draft statutory instrument (SI) laid before parliament to establish the new institution – assuming it is passed in late 2023 the SI should take effect by early 2024. 72 East Midlands Devolution, ‘Public consultation results and next steps’ East Midlands Devolution, (no date), retrieved 15 November 2023, www.eastmidlandsdevolution.co.uk/next-steps

The EMCCA region will have a population of 2.2m and span an area of 4,790km2. The region has more than 80,000 businesses employing more than 930,000 people, and has a gross value added (GVA) of over £50.5bn. 73 Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, ‘East Midlands devolution deal’ Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, 30 August 2022, retrieved 15 November 2023, www.gov.uk/government/publications/east-midlands-devolution-deal/east-midlands-devolution-deal para 1 74 Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, ‘East Midlands devolution deal’ Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, 30 August 2022, retrieved 15 November 2023, www.gov.uk/government/publications/east-midlands-devolution-deal/east-midlands-devolution-deal para 1

Who are the candidates for mayor of the EMCCA?

Labour’s candidate is Claire Ward, a former Watford MP and current chair of Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundations Trust, who has lived in Nottinghamshire for over a decade. 75 Weakley K, ‘Labour picks former MP as East Midlands mayor candidate’, Local Government Chronicle, 17 June 2022, retrieved 15 November 2023, www.lgcplus.com/politics/devolution-and-economic-growth/labour-picks-former-mp-as-east-midlands-mayor-candidate-04-08-2023

The Conservative candidate is Ben Bradley MP, who is also leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, a role he would have to surrender if he wins the mayoralty. 76 Parke C, ‘Tory MP and former Labour minister confirmed as East Midlands mayoral candidates’, The Standard, 18 September 2023, retrieved 15 November 2023, www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/ben-bradley-east-midlands-labour-mansfield-nottinghamshire-county-council-b1107662.html  

The Reform Party has selected Alan Graves the current Mayor of the City of Derby as its candidate for the election. 77 Waller J, Derby mayor wants to be East Midlands mayor – so he can abolish position, Chad, 21 January 2024, www.chad.co.uk/news/politics/derby-mayor-wants-to-be-east-midlands-mayor-so-he-can-abolish-position-4486941  The Green Party has selected Frank Adlington-Stringer to contest the seat, a councillor for North East Derbyshire District Council and Vice Chair of its Environmental Scrutiny Committee. 78 Locker J, Green Party candidate for East Midlands mayor pledges to represent communities ‘as honestly as possible’, Notss TV, 12 February 2024, nottstv.com/green-party-candidate-for-east-midlands-mayor-pledges-to-represent-communities-as-honestly-as-possible/  The Liberal Democrats have yet to select their candidates. 79 Pridmore O, ‘Labour officially selects former MP as East Midlands Mayor candidate’ Nottinghamshire Live, 3 August 2023, retrieved 15 November 2023, www.nottinghampost.com/news/local-news/labour-officially-selects-former-mp-8652586

Prospective candidates must receive signatures supporting their nomination from 100 electors, including 10 from each constituent council, and pay a deposit of £5,000. 80 Electoral Commission, Combined authority mayoral elections in England, no date, retrieved 4 August 2023, www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/candidate-or-agent/combined-authority-mayoral-elections-england  Deposits are refunded to candidates that receive 5% or more of the vote.

What powers will the mayor and combined authority have?

The mayor and combined authority will hold devolved powers in areas including transport, skills, regeneration and economic development. 81 Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, ‘East Midlands devolution deal’ Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, 30 August 2022, retrieved 15 November 2023, www.gov.uk/government/publications/east-midlands-devolution-deal/east-midlands-devolution-deal para 20 and 21

Unlike other devolution deal areas, local transport services are not currently managed across the devolution area. The government and constituent councils will instead develop a ‘transitional plan’ to improve transport in the region. After an interim period, 82 A transitional plan will be agreed between the government and the constituent councils of the EMCCA. the combined authority will control a new East Midlands Investment Fund. It is expected to use this towards transformational long-term investments with the government allocating £38m per year over a 30-year period subject to five-yearly reviews. 83 Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, ‘East Midlands devolution deal’ Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, 30 August 2022, retrieved 15 November 2023, www.gov.uk/government/publications/east-midlands-devolution-deal/east-midlands-devolution-deal#finance-and-investment paras 36 and 37

Subject to parliamentary approval via secondary legislation, the adult education budget will be fully devolved from the academic year 2025-26. 84 Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, ‘East Midlands devolution deal’ Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, 30 August 2022, retrieved 15 November 2023, www.gov.uk/government/publications/east-midlands-devolution-deal/east-midlands-devolution-deal#finance-and-investment para 46  The size of this budget will depend on decisions taken at subsequent spending reviews: based on funding for other combined authorities, this would have been around £66m in 2021/22. 85 Figure has been estimated using the average per capita adult education devolved budget across all current combined authorities and multiplying this by the population of the new EMCCA area. The per capita skills budget, varies across combined authorities, the lowest per capita funding is Cambridgeshire with £13.38, the largest is Tees Valley with £45.71, these figures imply the EMCCA budget could be between £29 million and £100 million.

EMCCA will also have powers to assist the delivery of new homes against local housing priorities outlined by relevant authorities. These powers include land acquisition and disposal. The mayor will have the power to designate mayoral development areas and establish mayoral development corporations. 86 Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, ‘East Midlands devolution deal’ Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, 30 August 2022, retrieved 15 November 2023, www.gov.uk/government/publications/east-midlands-devolution-deal/east-midlands-devolution-deal#finance-and-investment paras 57-60

The agreement of a combined authority is a first step, and subject to further agreement among local stakeholders, additional powers may be sought in the future

How does the East Midlands compare to the rest of the UK in terms of social and economic outcomes?

The East Midlands underperforms across several core economic indicators. Based on pre-pandemic data from 2019, economic productivity is 89%, and household incomes are 86%, of the UK average. However, three districts – Broxtowe, Bolsover and South Derbyshire – have above-average productivity (£37, £40 and £49 per hour worked respectively   against the UK average of £35 per hour). Rushcliffe and Derby Dales have above-average household income.

The region also underperforms on skills indicators. Some 57% of adults have a level three qualification or above, compared to 59% across the UK. But there is some variation in this: in Rushcliffe the figure is 80%, in Bassetlaw it is 39%. 

Public transport use is highest in Nottingham, but this is an outlier compared to the rest of the largely rural region, which as a whole is below the national average.

A scatter plot from the Institute for Government comparing areas within the East Midlands against both the East Midlands Mayoral County Combined Authority (EMCCA) and UK average for measurements such as carbon emissions, employment rate and social mobility index.


How does the EMCCA area overlap with other administrative boundaries?

The combined authority area directly aligns with the geography of the D2N2 local enterprise partnership, which will be integrated into EMCCA.

EMCCA covers two police areas – Derbyshire constabulary and Nottinghamshire police. An agreement about formalised joint working arrangements over public safety matters will need to be reached between EMCCA and the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire police and crime commissioners. 87 Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, ‘East Midlands devolution deal’ Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, 30 August 2022, retrieved 15 November 2023, www.gov.uk/government/publications/east-midlands-devolution-deal/east-midlands-devolution-deal

There are two NHS integrated care systems (ICS) in the EMCCA area: Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, and Derby and Derbyshire, but this latter stretches beyond the new combined authority into Staffordshire. 88 NHS England, ‘Midlands Directory’, NHS England, (no date), retrieved 15 November 2023 www.england.nhs.uk/system-and-organisational-oversight/system-directory/midlands-region

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