The benefits of devolution for Devon and Torbay

With a population of 953,000 and a Gross Value Added of over £17 billion, Devon and Torbay offer enormous potential. We have over 50,000 businesses providing over 483,000 jobs. There are significant sectors with the potential for growth. This includes:

View south over the rail tracks as they pass through Marsh Barton rail station. Green fields to left, and side aspect of an industrial building, which is the Exeter energy from waste plant.
  • advanced manufacturing and engineering (notably marine industries)
  • environmental technologies
  • data and clean industries
  • digital business
  • electronic and photonics activity
  • health and pharmaceutical manufacture

We also have traditional strengths in areas such as tourism, agritech and food production.

The challenges we face

Devon and Torbay face challenges that impact productivity levels and the ability to grow:

  • Productivity lags behind the UK average and requires an 18-20% increase to close the gap.
  • Public spending per person has historically trailed the rest of the UK.
  • Both rural and urban areas suffer from nationally significant levels of poverty.
  • Social mobility and youth aspiration and progression are particular areas of concern.
  • Young people are leaving the area due to a lack of available housing and attractive employment opportunities.
  • There are significant challenges with skills and educational performance and pockets of nationally significant educational need.

We are looking for a devolution deal that will give the area local powers it needs to level up, to tackle the challenges it faces. We want the people who live and work here to be better connected, more competitive, and more prosperous. The proposed deal will give the area greater ability to:

  • improve housing provision for local people
  • fund training and skills that meet the needs of our businesses
  • control public transport commissioning and infrastructure
  • attract inward investment to the area
  • create a strong and sustainable local economy

The benefits of a proposed deal

Devolution brings big decisions on things that matter most to people – good homes, jobs and transport – closer to their communities.

It means a new relationship for Devon and Torbay with Whitehall, a stronger voice in Government and chance to influence national policies that affect our lives, our communities and our futures.

If the proposed Deal is approved and a Combined County Authority established to oversee it, it will be the strong foundation for further devolution in the future.

The benefits proposed by Government include:

Training and skills

Direct control of adult education to create up to 50,000 new training and retraining opportunities by 2030. Through Local Skills Improvement Plans, the CCA would work councils, business and education leaders to create a stronger, joined-up relationship between employers and schools, colleges and universities to provide the skilled workforce the local economy needs for the future.

Green prosperity

The Government is proposing to transfer over £16 million of new funding to invest in new green jobs, homes, skills, and business growth and accelerate Devon and Torbay’s transition to a net-zero economy, capitalising on the area’s world-leading expertise in green science and technology.

Action on housing

The Government is offering a stronger partnership with Homes England, capitalising on the Affordable Housing Programme and Brownfield Infrastructure and Land Fund to create a joint action plan for affordable housing schemes for local people and reduce homelessness. The proposal includes additional land assembly and compulsory purchase powers and would facilitate greater Community Land Trust-led delivery.

Better public transport

On transport, the proposed Deal builds on Devon County Council and Torbay Councils’ long history of working well together on local transport planning. The proposed Deal will strengthen this joined-up approach with Devon and Torbay working as equal partners on a CCA and improving the efficiency and co-ordination of public transport. There is an ambition to introduce a single ticketing system for travellers and investment in services to provide greater access to public transport.

Investment in hi-tech

The Government is also offering to transfer responsibility for developing, designing and delivering the next stages of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund from 2025. The CCA would be responsible for working with Devon County Council, Torbay Council, District Councils and the business and education sectors to support high growth business sectors such as advanced marine engineering, defence, photonics and digital, and improve the look and feel of local communities with street and town centre enhancements.