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Q&A: Humber, Northern Lincolnshire and Greater Lincolnshire

The Humber LEP covers the four local authority areas of Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, North East Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire. Currently North East Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire are also covered by the Greater Lincolnshire LEP. These arrangements will change in future as devolution progresses in the area.

What has happened?

North Lincolnshire Council and North East Lincolnshire Council have confirmed that in future they will only be full members of the Greater Lincolnshire LEP.

Why has this decision been made?

Government decided in 2018 that LEP “overlaps” (where local authority areas are covered by more than one LEP) needed to end, in order to streamline accountability.

This isn’t what the Humber LEP, Greater Lincolnshire LEP or North & North Lincolnshire Councils wanted – we all thought that the current arrangements, which had existed since 2011, worked for our areas and would have been content for them to continue.  Most local economies have “fuzzy” boundaries; in our case, Northern Lincolnshire is an integral part of the industrial cluster surrounding the Humber Estuary, but also has some things in common with agricultural Lincolnshire, as well as social ties with the historic county.

How has devolution affected this?

More recently, local authorities have been discussing how to move forward with devolution in the area.  Devolution in England (outside London) is to combined authorities – formal collaborative structures between local authorities.  It is not legally possible for an area to be in two combined authorities.

In March, Humber and Greater Lincolnshire council leaders and MPs met with ministers to discuss how to proceed with devolution.  Although the Government’s view was that a cross-Humber LEP and devolution arrangement would be the optimum economic outcome, they were also clear that they would not compel local authorities to join a particular geography.  Ministers therefore decided with regret to respect that northern Lincolnshire leaders and MPs consider that their future lies with Lincolnshire and to proceed with negotiations for separate devolution in Hull & East Riding and Greater Lincolnshire.

In most cases, LEPs are coterminous with combined authorities and closely integrated with them.  The announcement that North and North Lincolnshire Councils have confirmed that they will in future be sole members of the Greater Lincolnshire LEP is a consequence of this decision on devolution.

What happens next?

Government plans to give priority to negotiating a Hull and East Riding deal, but it is likely to take two or three years to establish devolved arrangements, subject to successful negotiations.

Government has been clear that the Humber LEP should continue in its current form and role for as long as local partners consider is necessary to enable the area to transition effectively to the new Hull and East Riding devolution and LEP arrangements.  Government also expects to see continued strong and effective cross-Estuary collaboration under future devolved arrangements, particularly on clean growth, ports and manufacturing.

Nothing will therefore change immediately.  Businesses in Northern Lincolnshire can still access the support available through the Humber Business Growth Hub and our other programmes.  Residents can still benefit from the employment and skills programmes funded through the Humber, including the range of services that help those most vulnerable in our communities and the new Humber Jobs Fuse.  Our ongoing investments in Northern Lincolnshire, which have totalled over £50m, will also continue as planned.

Over the coming months we will work with partners and stakeholders across the Humber to develop plans for how economic collaboration should continue across the Humber Estuary in future, and we welcome views on what this should look like.  Alongside this, we will support our local authority partners to progress their devolution negotiations, and develop future LEP arrangements with Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

We will also be working with Greater Lincolnshire LEP to support a smooth transition of LEP arrangements for Northern Lincolnshire in line with progress on devolved arrangements.

What happens to representatives from the South Bank on the LEP?

There are well over a hundred businesses, education and training providers and other organisations and individuals from Northern Lincolnshire that have been volunteering their time on the LEP’s Board, sub-boards and other groups, or have been working closely with the LEP.  We are grateful for all of the support they have given us since 2011, and we know this isn’t the outcome they wanted.

Regardless of what happens on devolution or how LEP arrangements will change for the South Bank in the future, we know that the next year will be a challenging period for all of the Humber economy as the economic impact of the coronavirus worsens.  We have been working hard with partners over recent months to co-ordinate the economic response across the Humber to the initial emergency, and we remain committed to supporting Northern Lincolnshire businesses and residents through the next period.

This decision also does not change the major economic opportunities for the South Bank, particularly in clean growth and port-related manufacturing where collaboration with the North Bank is crucial.

We believe any change will take between 18 months and 2 years and therefore we continue with business as usual in the Humber and we want to ensure there remains a strong South Bank voice in the Humber LEP throughout this period.  Representatives of businesses, education and training providers and other organisations in Northern Lincolnshire have a vital role to play in guiding our response to these challenges and opportunities, and in helping to shape future arrangements for economic collaboration across the Humber Estuary.  We value everyone’s contributions, and appreciate their patience and support.

What happens to the Energy Estuary and plans to decarbonise the region?

This decision does not change the Humber’s importance to the UK economy from generating clean energy like offshore wind and working to decarbonise our strategically-important industries like steel, oil refining and chemicals.  These are areas where collaboration across the Humber has been essential for the progress made so far, and will remain essential for the area to enable the UK to reach net zero carbon emissions.

We are continuing to work with partners to expand the Humber’s leading offshore wind cluster further, attract new low- and zero-carbon investment and support the long-term sustainability of our major industries through decarbonisation.  We intend that these areas will be key in the future collaboration arrangements across the Humber Estuary, and are determined that there will be no loss of momentum in the meantime.