Some frequently asked questions about devolution, who's involved, what it means for London and more.
Devolution for London means two things. First, reform or the devolution of powers to deliver public services that currently sit in central government departments to a more local level – the Mayor of London, the 32 boroughs or groups of boroughs. Second, fiscal devolution, or the transfer of additional powers over taxation to the Mayor and the boroughs.
Devolution and reform is a process. It involves a major change in the way the country works and therefore it takes place in stages over long periods of time. London government has ambitions for a more local and integrated approach to delivering services relating to criminal justice, skills and employment, health and social care, housing, transport and infrastructure.
Devolution in these and other areas is an ongoing process. For example, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced the devolution the Adult Education Budget to London from 2019/20, the Work and Health Programme to London from 2018/19, and a London pilot of the 100% business rates retention system from 2018/19. On top of this, London Councils continues to work closely with London boroughs, the Mayor of London and other London partners to make the case to Government for further devolution and public service reform in London.
All areas of activity currently under the authority of either the London Mayor or London boroughs will remain as today. The Mayor and the Leaders and Mayors of the London Boroughs already meet as the London Congress. This body would have strategic oversight of newly devolved responsibilities across London.
Devolution would mean that Londoners would have more freedom to develop the policies and services they need to unlock the full potential of the city and its people. In particular this would be in the areas of employment support and complex dependency, skills, criminal justice, health and care, housing and business support.
Chief Executive London leads
Devolution and public service reform - Charlie Parker (Chief Executive, Westminster)
Adult Services - Paul Najsarek (Chief Executive, Ealing)
Children and Young People - Mike Cooke (Chief Executive, Camden)
Crime and Community Safety - Michael Lockwood (Chief Executive, Harrow)
Employment support - Leslie Seary (Chief Executive, Islington)
Finance - Chris Naylor (Chief Executive, Sutton)
Health and Care – Will Tuckley (Chief Executive, Tower Hamlets)
Housing - Mark Harpley (Chief Executive, Hounslow), Andy Donald (Chief Executive, Redbridge)
Skills - Tim Shields (Chief Executive, Barnet)
Transport - Rob Leak (Chief Executive, Enfield)
London Councils leads
Devolution and public service reform - Dick Sorabji and Doug Flight
Adult Services - Clive Grimshaw
Children and Young People - Clive Grimshaw
Crime and Community Safety - Doug Flight
Employment support - Dianna Neal
Finance - Guy Ware
Health and Care – Clive Grimshaw
Housing - Eloise Shepherd
Skills - Dianna Neal
Transport - Katharina Winbeck
Fiscal devolution as outlined by the London Finance Commission means that decisions about the level of certain taxes would be set by London local government, rather than as now, by central government. This would include the ability to lower or raise taxes and to ring-fence all or a proportion of London's contribution for use in the capital.
Since 2010, the London boroughs have seen a reduction of 44 per cent in their core grant. The CSR 2015 is unlikely to change this trajectory and it is difficult to imagine a scenario in the forseeable future where this would be different. Devolution and reform offers boroughs greater flexibility to use their existing capacity more effectively to improve services during austerity.
The boroughs are recognized as being one of the most efficient parts of English local government – something we achieved by getting on with it and not waiting to be asked. Devolution offers a means of potentially accelerating existing programmes to transform the way we work with each other, partners and our communities. The Government have proven willing to listen about how to devolve services so London Councils believes that having different devolution packages means they can be tailored to the realities on the ground