Devolution FAQs

Public Consultation on the draft proposal for the Devon and Torbay Combined County Authority – 12 February to 24 March 2024 

  • What is devolution? 

    Devolution is the transfer of powers and funding from central government to local government.

    Devolution enables decisions to be made closer to the local people, communities, and businesses they affect. This means more effective, better targeted public services, greater growth and stronger partnerships between public, private and community leaders in local areas.

     

     

  • What is a devolution deal?

    A devolution deal is an agreement between Government and a group of councils. Deals cover issues such as transport, housing, skills, and support for business. Since November 2023 the Government has had four levels of devolution, each with different powers and functions. The devolution deal for Devon and Torbay is a level 2 deal.

    The types of powers and functions available at each of the four levels are available on the Government’s devolution framework page.

  • Who is proposing the Devon and Torbay devolution deal? 

    Devon County Council and Torbay Council have been working with Government on the details since 2022. The Secretary of State for Levelling Up and Council Leaders agreed the proposed devolution deal for Devon and Torbay on 25 January 2024.

    The Councils are now consulting of the draft proposal to establish the Devon and Torbay Combined County Authority (DT CCA). The DT CCA would be responsible for delivery, implementation and oversight of the deal. If approved, the DT CCA would be established through secondary legislation introduced by Government.

  • What is a combined county authority? 

    A combined county authority is a legal body that enables a group of two or more upper tier councils (i.e. county or unitary councils) to collaborate and take collective decisions across council boundaries.

    Local elected councillors will work together across council boundaries as the Devon and Torbay Combined County Authority to deliver lasting improvements on the things that matter to local people, using the new powers and additional funding from Government to tackle priorities such housing, public transport, jobs, training and skills.

  • Which councils will be included? 

    The two upper tier councils that would be part of the Combined County Authority are Devon County Council and Torbay Council. They will be the constituent members of the authority and responsible for all reserved matters such as the CCA’s budget, strategic and policy framework and strategic transport policy. Devon’s district councils would also have a voice on the Devon and Torbay Combined County Authority along with the business and education sectors, and the Police and Crime Commissioner.

  • Will there be a rise in Council Tax? 

    It will not mean a rise in Council Tax. There is no option to add the cost of the Devon and Torbay Combined County Authority onto Council Tax bills.

    Funding has been secured as part of the proposed deal to meet the additional costs of the new arrangements.

  • Will this Deal mean Devon and Torbay will have to have a directly elected Mayor for the whole area? 

    The proposed devolution deal does not require the election of a Mayor for Devon and Torbay or changes to the current structure of local councils. The proposed Devon and Torbay Combined County Authority – a partnership of local councillors representing Devon and Torbay, including District Councils, and representatives from business and education – will be responsible for new powers and funding transferred from central Government.

  • Is a Combined County Authority a ‘super council’ that will control all of Devon, and Torbay? 

    No. If the devolution deal goes ahead, local councils in Devon and Torbay will continue to exist and have the same responsibilities as they do now. No local authority functions are being removed from any local authority in the area, other than the strategic transport functions of the County Council and Torbay Council with their agreement. The current legal, tax-raising and public service responsibilities of individual councils will remain with those councils. 

  • How will the Combined County Authority be legally authorised to take decisions?

    The Government’s Levelling-up and Regeneration Act provides the legal framework for creating Combined County Authorities. The Secretary of State can create a Combined County Authority for an area by introducing an Order in Parliament for that purpose with the consent of the area’s councils.

  • What will happen next? 

    The proposed Devon and Torbay devolution deal is a big step forward on the devolution journey, but it is not the conclusion. When the current public consultation is complete, there will be a democratic process of consideration of the results and scrutiny by councillors. There will then be meetings of Devon and Torbay’s full Councils to decide making a final submission to Government for the Devon and Torbay Combined County Authority.

  • Will the Devon and Torbay Combined County Authority employ staff? 

    If established, a Devon and Torbay CCA would be an employer in its own right and appoint officers. As far as possible, the CCA would draw on the capacity of the existing councils, for example through secondments or sharing staff, to ensure costs are minimised.

  • Why did Plymouth City Council withdraw from the deal? 

    Plymouth City Council withdrew from the Deal because it did not wish to combine with Torbay and Devon County Council as a single strategic Local Transport Authority delivering joined-up transport services.

    The provisions of the proposed devolution deal enable Plymouth City Council to apply to join the DT CCA at some point in the future.

  • Will this mean the end of Team Devon?

    No. A Team Devon Joint Committee will be established to bring the County, District Councils, National Park Authorities and the Devon Association of Local Councils together. This will give the Committee a voice and establish a collective Team Devon position in the CCA. Costs will be off-set by the winding up of the Heart of the South West Joint Committee.

    Who are Team Devon?

    Local authority partners within Devon came together in 2018 to form the Team Devon partnership. The County Council, Devon’s district councils (East Devon District Council, Exeter City Council, Mid Devon District Council, North Devon Council, South Hams District Council, Teignbridge District Council, Torridge District Council and West Devon Borough Council), and wider county stakeholders (including Devon’s 2 national parks and the Devon Association of Local Councils which represents Devon’s town and parish councils) formed an informal partnership which allowed for the pursuit and discussion of shared matters.

  • Who will pay for setting up the Combined County Authority?

    The Government is offering £1 million to fund the set-up costs of our proposed CCA. The costs will also be off-set by savings from the winding-up the Heart of the South West LEP whose functions (as they relate to Devon and Torbay) will be incorporated into the proposed new authority. 

  • Will health and social care services be integrated as part of the Devon and Torbay CCA?

    While none of the powers, responsibilities or functions that would be devolved to the Devon and Torbay CCA relate directly to health or social care, some of its priorities will have an impact on the health and wellbeing of people across Devon and Torbay.  Priorities such as to provide more affordable housing, and more energy efficient housing, or to encourage people to be more active in their travel habits for example, have a direct correlation with people’s physical and mental health.