East Midlands area secures adult education budget powers in first of a kind county devolution deal

Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire secure adult education budget responsibilities as first mayoral combined county authority.

Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire secure adult education budget responsibilities as first mayoral combined county authority.

30 Aug 2022, 17:30

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The first county deal devolution arrangement has been secured for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire today that will see the adult education budget and skills powers transfer to local leaders.

In February the government announced plans for nine “county deal” devolution negotiations, as part of its levelling up agenda.

Derby and Derbyshire and Nottingham (pictured above) and Nottinghamshire had been listed as two of the nine, but the pair have been negotiating as a combined East Midlands deal.

This afternoon the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities confirmed they will form the first Mayoral Combined County Authority (MCCA). The aim is for the first mayoral election to be held in May 2024.

The deal will see the area get a directly elected mayor and £1.14 billion over the next 30 years. That includes a fully devolved adult education budget (AEB) from 2025/26 and “involvement” with local skills improvement plans (LSIPs) in line with the other mayoral combined authorities.

In a joint statement, the leaders of Nottinghamshire County (Ben Bradley), Nottingham City (David Mellen), Derbyshire County (Barry Lewis) and Derby City (Chris Poulter) councils said: “As leaders, we have all fought for a fairer share for our cities and counties, and a bigger voice for our area, to give us the clout and the influence we deserve, and to help us live up to our full potential.

“This deal would help make that a reality, creating more and better jobs through greater investment in our area, with increased economic growth, better transport, housing, skills training, and an enhanced greener environment, as we move towards being carbon neutral.”

Nottingham City Council leader David Mellen, Derbyshire County Council leader Barry Lewis, Levelling Up secretary Greg Clark, Derby City Council leader Chris Poulter, Nottinghamshire County Council leader Ben Bradley. Credit: Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

According to the proposed agreement, the number of people in the East Midlands qualified to levels 2 and 3 are above the England average, but those with qualifications of level 4 and above are below the national average.

It said that there are “significant place-based variations in skills and productivity across the East Midlands districts”.

The report said that over the next 10 to 15 years a slower growth in the working age population coupled with technology advances will mean re-skilling opportunities will be needed.

The AEB is set to be fully devolved from 2025/26 academic year, subject to parliamentary approval, although that does not cover apprenticeships or traineeships. The size of the AEB has not yet been confirmed.

Upon devolution of AEB, East Midlands MCCA will be responsible for making allocations to providers and the outcomes to be achieved. The government said it will “not seek to second guess these decisions, but it will set proportionate requirements about outcome information to be collected in order to allow students to make informed choices”.

Levelling Up secretary Greg Clark said: “The East Midlands is renowned for its economic dynamism and it has the potential to lead Britain’s economy of the future.

“For a long time I have believed that the East Midlands should have the powers and devolved budgets that other areas in Britain have been benefitting from and I am thrilled to be able to bring that about in Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.”

It follows the confirmation earlier in the summer that York and North Yorkshire will get an elected mayor and devolved skills and adult education powers.

Meanwhile work is continuing on the other county deal areas, expected to be confirmed before the end of the year.

Those are: Cornwall; Devon, Plymouth and Tobay; Durham; Hull and East Yorkshire; Leicestershire; Norfolk; and Suffolk.

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