Devolution: Important first step taken

Caroline Williams, Chief Executive, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

Norfolk should be congratulated in meeting the Government’s very tight deadline and getting in a letter of intent relating to devolution co-signed by Norfolk council leaders, the chairman of the NALEP and university leaders.

There is no doubt that there is a long way to go and many questions to be answered but it was very important that Norfolk was able to show its intent and its vision to be part of the new, evolving UK structure.

It may be that Suffolk and Norfolk end up working on a joint submission further down the line but without Norfolk committing to this first stage that would not have been an option.

The key points in Norfolk’s letter of intent include to:

  • Improve productivity, drive growth and improve housing delivery
    This would including forming a productivity commission to look at improving productivity and draw up a 10-point rural productivity plan
  • Invest in transport and improve infrastructure
    To develop the development of an integrated, modern transport system including road and rail across county boundaries
  • Transform skills and employment
    Provide a Youth Pledge to give personal support to 14-24 year olds into post-16 learning, an apprenticeship, work experience or a job within 3 months of leaving education or employment
  • Transform the delivery of health and social care
    Work with partners to improve health and wellbeing in the county
  • Co-operation amongst key partners
    Strengthen the joint working of the private and public sector
  • Strengthen a coordinated  business support offer
    Seeking the devolution of national business support schemes

As already covered in a previous article Norfolk Chamber will be working with our partners to ensure the following:

1. Devolution is about economic growth and prosperity
2. Norfolk businesses want participation, not just consultation
3. There need to be formal accountability and clear safeguards
4. Regulation of business must be consistent
5. Complexity needs to be reduced

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