As part of a move towards the greater devolution of powers and budgets away from Westminster, the Government has invited all local authorities in England to develop their own local proposals.

In response, Devon has been working closely with councils in Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay along with Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks, and the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership on an initial submission or Statement of Intent.

The agreed key local themes are economic growth, health, social care and wellbeing, and infrastructure and local resilience.

More information

Heart of the South West newsletter

Frequently asked questions

The Government has offered the chance to have greater power and responsibility for providing services and improving the economy. We are doing this because we believe that decisions about our future should be made as locally as possible. We also believe that there is scope for public sector organisations to work together more efficiently.

In the Heart of the South West every one of our district, unitary and county councils are involved, as well as both National Park Authorities and the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership who are key to our work.

  • Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership
  • Somerset County Council
  • Somerset’s district and borough councils:
    • Mendip
    • Sedgemoor
    • South Somerset
    • Taunton Deane
    • West Somerset
  • Devon County Council
  • Devon’s district and borough councils
    • East Devon
    • Mid Devon
    • North Devon
    • South Hams
    • Teignbridge
    • Torridge
    • West Devon
  • Plymouth City Council
  • Exeter City Council
  • Torbay Council
  • Exmoor National Park
  • Dartmoor National Park

The Government is keen for devolution to happen within ‘Local Enterprise Partnership’ boundaries, and that is what our bid does. We want to make sure we work with our neighbouring local authorities where it makes sense to do that, so that we can benefit even more from devolution. The Government’s offer is to local authorities in the first instance as they have a unique role amongst other public services because they are run by democratically elected councils. Other partners will be involved as part of the detailed negotiations that follow.

Our Statement of Intent sets out that we are looking for additional powers and responsibilities in three areas:

  • Economic growth and productivity
  • Health, social care and wellbeing
  • Infrastructure and local resilience

These are the areas we want to be the focus of our discussions with Government as we look in detail at what could make the biggest difference to us and bring the most benefits for our residents.

We need to have those detailed discussions before we can talk about specific powers that might want to have devolved.

Equally, if we can do something without having any devolved powers, we will just get on and do it and it won’t form part of our negotiations with Government.

The only cost envisaged is the cost of officer time which is being shared between the various organisation involved in the bid.

One of the objectives of our bid is to make the public sector more efficient and save money. Ideally, with less bureaucracy and layers of decision-making, devolution will reduce costs. The Government expects devolution deals to be ‘fiscally neutral’ - it does not want to spend any more money than it already spends. But our communities should benefit from economies of scale, delivering better outcomes.

Once the Statement of Intent has been sent to the Government we will continue to work together and with other Heart of the South West public sector partners on the detail, and start having conversations with Government departments.

This process is complex and will take many months. After we submit our Statement of Intent we will prepare more detailed proposals for Government, and then there will be some hard negotiating. We can’t say when a deal will be struck because there are no hard and fast timetables, but we are determined to move as quickly as we can because devolution offers us significant benefits. However, we must not underestimate the tremendous achievements to date: a single voice from 20 different authorities across Devon and Somerset is a very powerful voice indeed.