News Article

WMiC, Issue 16 - Plain English Guide: Devolution - A Mayor for the West Midlands. What does it mean?

Posted on 27 April 2017 (Permalink)

For those needing a concise and easily understandable guide to what the new directly elected Mayors and Combined Authorities will be able to do, the Department of Communities and Local Government has produced a suite of plain English guides. There is a guide for each mayoral combined authority area which sets out how it is run, the powers the mayor and the combined authority will have, the budgets at their command and who will be responsible for what. There is also a guide for Cornwall, which although not adopting a directly elected mayor, is taking forward a devolution deal.

For the West Midlands Mayor and Combined Authority, the guide notes that they will have a functional power of competence”, meaning they can legally do “anything individuals generally may do if they consider that it is necessary to exercise their functions, unless the law specifically prohibits it”. The Mayor will also be able to set a precept on local council tax bills to help pay for their work, and subject to the Local Government Finance Bill, will be able to raise an infrastructure levy of up to 2p in the pound from local businesses. Also subject to legislation, the Combined Authority will be able to borrow money, up to a cap agreed with Government, to deliver their new responsibilities in areas such as economic regeneration and housing.


A range of more specific powers, responsibilities, decision-making processes and budgets are set out and explained in a straightforward question and answer format. The guide’s introduction summarises these powers as the ability to:

  • Invest in local priorities to improve the West Midlands through a new investment fund, worth £1.095 billion over 30 years;
  • Keep more of the business rates that the councils collect from local business, to pay for local services;
  • Set the rules for local bus services, including the routes, timetables and fares (if the Bus Services Bill is approved by Parliament);
  • Manage local transport and the most important local roads to help people get around more easily;
  • Help shape how land is used to meet the area’s housing, employment and transport needs; and
  • Control adult education services to help local people get the skills they need (if Parliament approves the relevant legislation and the West Midlands meets the conditions set by the Department for Education)”



Department of Communities and Local Government - Devolution: A Mayor for the West Midlands. What does it mean? April 2017

Department of Communities and Local Government - Devolution and mayors: what does it mean? April 2017