Lincolnshire devolution deal could bring in additional £50million a year says council leader during ceremonial signing of agreement with Government minister
A council leader estimates that the Lincolnshire devolution deal will equate to an extra £50 million a year for the region – which has been described it as ‘one of the most generous’ by a minister.
The Secretary of State for Levelling Up Jacob Young, yesterday met with the three leaders of Lincolnshire County Council, North Lincolnshire, and North East Lincolnshire Council for a ceremonial signing of the Greater Lincolnshire Devolution Deal at Scunthorpe’s 20-21 Visual Arts Centre.
County councillors are due to debate the deal during their next meeting – which takes place on Friday.
Announced during the Autumn statement, the deal introduces the Greater Lincolnshire Mayoral Combined County Authority (MCCA), and an elected mayor, covering Lincolnshire, North, and North East Lincolnshire.
It also includes a Mayoral Investment Fund of £24 million annually for 30 years, a one-off £28.4 million capital investment, and control over the Adult Education Budget from 2026, among other benefits. The deal promises to give Greater Lincolnshire a ‘stronger voice’ regionally and nationally, focusing on key areas like the UK Food Valley and renewable energy.
Lincolnshire County Council leader Coun Martin Hill said: “When you actually add up all the stuff, including that which hasn’t yet been announced, my estimation is that it will be over £50 million a year coming to Lincolnshire, and that to me is quite a bit of money.”
He said there were “substantial” powers, adding that “once you’re in the system, you can get more and more.”
Coun Hill argued that the idea the mayor would bring additional bureaucracy was a misunderstanding.
“The mayor is not somebody who’s going to be in charge of us all or someone we’ve got to report to; they are very much bringing all partners together, to ensure we have a common view of what we want for our county, and who will then go and bang that drum to government.”
Following the signing, Secretary of State for Levelling Up Jacob Young said “Lincolnshire is getting one of the most generous devolution deals.
“The leaders would not have signed up to a deal that they didn’t think was in the best interest of the people of Lincolnshire and this is one of the most ambitious deals we’ve been able to sign.”
He was keen to highlight that the deal would bring £750 million over the next 30 years, which would go to priorities in transport and regeneration.
A mayoral-led devolution deal was rejected in 2016, due to a number of objections including those lodged by Lincolnshire County Council.
Mr Young said the government had simplified the devolution deals since then, and some did not require a mayor. But he said having a mayor unlocked additional powers for Greater Lincolnshire.
“We’ve seen the effectiveness of local mayors in areas like Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, and elsewhere who can really champion their area, and I want that for Lincolnshire,” he said.
North Lincolnshire Council Leader Rob Waltham said the world had “moved on” from 2016.
“Lots of areas have devolution, and that puts them directly as our competitors. So we either choose to stay in the cheap seats, or we actually occupy the better seats and make sure that we own exactly what we’re trying to deliver for the area.”
North East Lincolnshire leader Coun Philip Jackson saying, “This is a deal which will be fantastic for Greater Lincolnshire, from the Humber down to the Wash.”
Critics have said £24 million a year extra in devolution money is not enough, pointing to comparisons such as the £38 million a year being offered to the new East Midlands Mayoral Authority and £48 million a year to the North East Mayoral Authority.
They note issues with funding elsewhere, including how Lincolnshire County Council had a £12 million highways funding gap for 2022/23 following a 25% cut from central government – half the amount the devolution deal is offering.
On its website, Lincolnshire County Council says a fairer funding deal for Lincolnshire could bring a further £116 million a year to the region. Under that, we’d be £92 million better off.
However, leaders said that was a separate issue. Mr Young said that the government had given local authorities a £5 billion uplift in their budget from government last year.
Coun Hill said the mayoral funding was ‘additional funding’ but added: “We still have a campaign going on to get federal funding, and additional highways money.”
He highlighted a recent £5 billion announcement in the autumn statement to go towards highways nationally.
“This is additionality, not included in that, so the argument about how much funding we get for general services will still go on.”
Leaders say that, per head of population, Lincolnshire is getting substantially more than some other devolved areas.
North Lincolnshire Leader Coun Waltham added that it wasn’t only about the money, but what that funding could kick start.
He said the aim would be to drive outcomes that would make a difference elsewhere, including closer working between partners and developing better skills access for the population.
“If we can get more people in better paid work, that would be a success,” he said.
“We can do that by strengthening partnerships by working together, by distilling some of what government does but on a national level, and actually getting to understand what that will mean for the local Lincolnshire economy.”
He pointed to having a better public transport system as another example.
“If we stop looking at boundaries and promote better connectivity for work and town centres… working on outcome rather than cost input… you start to see the difference.”
The formal devolution adoption process of the deal will commence following the full council votes, with North East Lincolnshire set to vote first on Thursday night, followed by Lincolnshire County Council on Friday and North Lincolnshire on Monday.
An eight-week public consultation will follow before the proposal is presented to the government. If approved, this will lead to the formation of a Mayoral Combined County Authority and the election of a Mayor in May 2025.