Last week’s budget sparked outrage as thousands of disabled people across the country suddenly saw a dramatic drop in income. While the national press debated the decision and Conservative anchor man, Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation, some of the budget’s more understated clauses apparently slipped through the net.
One of which was the decision, at last, to go ahead with a plan for devolution in the West of England. Welcomed by business leaders in Bristol, the deal will see an elected metro Mayor preside over Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset.
The plans are yet to be finalised and there are, of course, those who oppose them but devolution could result in some very positive gains for Bristol and surrounding areas. It all depends on how it’s managed.
Decentralisation has some obvious benefits: a clearer more defined approach to spending at a local level, a more democratic approach to governance where citizens play a more active role in politics and a real ability to promote a regions strengths – for good.
So what’s the plan for the West of England? The main proposals in a nutshell are as follows:
• Devolved local transport budget
• Franchised bus services
• Strategic planning powers
• £30 million a year in extra funding for 30 years
• Responsibility for the adult education budget
• Co- design of the National Work and Health Programme
• Growing Bristol and Bath Science Park and Food Enterprise Zone at J21 Enterprise Area
• Development of the West of England Growth Hub
• Essentially, ‘a single pot to invest in its [West of England] economic growth’
Find out more here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/west-of-england-devolution-deal
Tell us what you think, where would you like to see the money spent?