Devolution to Cornwall

On 5 April 2023 Cabinet members confirmed that the Council will not be accepting the proposed Level 3 Cornwall Devolution Deal that includes the requirement for a directly elected mayor. 

However, even getting to the point of having negotiated a proposed Level 3 Devolution Deal has enabled the Council to secure and retain £7 million for affordable housing schemes, £3 million for seven heritage projects and a £1 million investment in Cornwall’s natural capital. Furthermore, the Government’s draft Media Bill delivers on the Level 3 Deal proposal of including ‘Cornish’ in the list of recognised regional or minority languages.

As an alternative, the Council has negotiated a proposed Level 2 Deal that seeks to retain as many of the elements of the Level 3 deal as possible. Officers will present the Level 2 Deal to Cabinet for consideration on 28 November 2023.

Read our news release for more information about the deal.

Read the proposed Level 2 Cornwall Devolution Deal

What is devolution?

Devolution happens when;

  • powers,
  • funding
  • and decisions

which would usually be held, and determined by central government, are transferred to local authorities, such as Cornwall Council.

Why are we considering a new devolution deal now?

Cornwall was the first rural area of the country to negotiate one of the first devolution deals with Government in 2015.

Cornwall has delivered the deal over the past seven years, which has brought many benefits to residents and local communities.

Benefits include;

  • better transport
  • investment in skills
  • and exploration of deep geothermal power

You can view these benefits in more detail in the Cornwall Devolution Impact Report.

Read the Cornwall Devolution Deal Impact ReportIn 2021 the Government announced that new devolution deals (so called “County Deals”) would be negotiated with non-metropolitan areas as part of its Levelling Up agenda.

The Government’s intention is to enable places like Cornwall to benefit from the same powers that have already been devolved to metropolitan areas.

In February 2022, the Government published the Levelling Up the United Kingdom white paper.

Read the Levelling up white paper

This set out their plans to reduce regional inequality by 2030. These plans are underpinned by 12 missions.

Mission 12 commits Government to offering devolution deals, at three different levels, to any area that wants one.

As part of commitment, the Government announced that Cornwall would be one of nine county areas invited to develop a devolution deal. In Cornwall’s case, its second deal, to build on the success of the first deal set out in 2015.

What are the principles for devolution set out by Government, and what does this mean for Cornwall?

In the Levelling Up white paper, Government offers areas opportunities to secure;

  • devolved powers
  • funding
  • and influence

based on a ‘devolution framework.’

The following four principles underpin the new ‘devolution framework’. This is set out by Government and will guide the negotiations on all devolution deals in England.

Principle one: Effective leadership

  • The Government firmly believes there are benefits from having a directly elected leader. Who is; prominent and accountable.

Principle two: Sensible geography

  • To access powers, devolution deals should be agreed over a whole county geography. They should have a single institution in place across that geographic footprint.

Principle three: Flexibility

  • The three levels of devolution set out in the framework define a clear and consistent set of pathways to enable deals to be tailored to each area.

Principle four: Appropriate accountability

  • Local leaders and institutions with devolution deals need to be transparent and accountable. Seeking the best value for taxpayer’s money.

Three levels of devolution are available, as set out in the 'devolution framework' (see page 140 of the Levelling Up white paper).

These depend on a specific type of governance model. The powers and investment available range from the highest Level 3, to the lowest Level 1.

  • Level 3 – A single institution or Unitary/County Council with a directly elected leader across a whole county area
  • Level 2 – A single institution or Unitary/County Council without a directly elected leader, across a whole county area
  • Level 1 – Local authorities working together across a whole county area e.g. through a joint committee.

Your feedback is important to us

Help us improve our service