York and North Yorkshire secures adult education powers in devolution deal

York and North Yorkshire devolution deal will include adult education budget powers and inclusion with local skills improvement plans

York and North Yorkshire devolution deal will include adult education budget powers and inclusion with local skills improvement plans

A devolution deal for York and North Yorkshire is to be signed today which will include adult education funding transferring to local leaders.

The government’s levelling up white paper published in February confirmed devolution plans that would see York and North Yorkshire to agree a mayoral combined authority deal, an expanded mayoral combined authority deal for the north east, and invited formal negotiations with nine other areas for ‘county deals’.

Today, coinciding with Yorkshire Day, the York and North Yorkshire agreement is to be completed, which will see £540 million distributed to a new mayoral authority over the next 30 years.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities confirmed that the deal will enable York and North Yorkshire to take control of its adult education functions – including the adult education budget (AEB) and contribute to local skills improvement plans.

It is unclear at this stage how much the area’s AEB will total, but the report said that the AEB would be fully devolved in time for the 2025/26 academic year.

Other devolved responsibilities include bus franchising, regeneration plans and new house building developments.

North Yorkshire County Council leader, Carl Les, said: “The chance to secure a host of decision-making powers as well as bringing in millions of pounds of investment for North Yorkshire is a huge opportunity to shape the future of the county for many years to come.

“Whether it is improving skills and education, bringing in more investment to the region or helping improve transport links and providing much-needed affordable housing, the deal will enable us to take far greater control of our own destinies.”

Levelling Up secretary Greg Clark said: “Yorkshire Day 2022 is an historic one. It marks the return of power and resources from London to much of North Riding.

“Levelling Up – driving prosperity and opportunity in all parts of Britain – is done best when people locally can forge the future of their area. This deal is a big step in that direction.”

Currently nine mayoral combined authorities and the Greater London Authority have devolved powers over adult education, including responsibilities to decide which providers deliver AEB provision in their area.

It means they can contract provision to meet local skills need, and set their own priorities.

More than half of the adult education budget, around 60 per cent, is already handled by devolved regions. More of the AEB will be devolved as more areas secure powers. It is the government’s ambition that eventually the adult skills system is wholly devolved.

Meanwhile, negotiations are continuing with the nine areas due for county deal devolutions, with announcements on those possibly coming as early as September.

Those deals are based on three levels of devolution. Level one has the lowest level of powers with local authorities working together in a committee. Level two has a county council without a directly elected mayor but more powers than level one, while level three includes a directly elected mayor with the most powers available.

Level two and three deals include devolved adult education functions as well as input into local skills improvement plans.

Negotiations are taking place behind closed doors, meaning the nature of each areas plans are murky at best, but most appear to be pursuing level two or three deals which would include those skills and adult education elements.

Those areas are: Cornwall; Derby and Derbyshire; Devon, Plymouth and Torbay; Durham; Hull and East Yorkshire; Leicestershire; Norfolk; Nottinghamshire and Nottingham; Suffolk.

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