06Appendix: Combined authorities and Integrated Transport Authorities
What is a combined authority?
A combined authority can be set up when two or more neighbouring local authorities, covering an area’s natural economic footprint, want to collaborate more closely to support economic development. Unlike Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), a combined authority must be a legal body and a local authority may only be part of one combined authority. The benefits of forming a combined authority are intended by government to include:
- Streamlined governance arrangements
- Improved long-term strategic decision-making
- A clear external voice to government and investors
- Improved alignment, coordination and delivery of economic development and transport related initiatives
- A means by which to steer significant streams of work.
When a combined authority is created, its constituent local authorities decide which of their economic development and regeneration functions the combined authority takes on. Most combined authorities bring together strategy for transport, economic development, housing and regeneration, but they may also include strategy for skills and inward investment.
A combined authority is also responsible for delivering an integrated public transport network in the area it covers, similar to Passenger Transport Executives and Integrated Transport Authorities. However, the Secretary of State has the option to hand a combined authority additional transport related powers and responsibilities.
What is an Intergrated Transport Authority?
Passenger Transport Executives provide transport services often on behalf of an Integrated Transport Authority (ITA) which covers multiple local authorities’ transport services, including:
- Contributing to the planning of local rail services (in partnership with DfT)
- Planning and funding socially necessary bus routes
- Working with private operators to improve bus services
- Running concessionary travel schemes – including those for older, disabled and young people
- Investing in local public transport networks – including new rail and bus stations
- Developing and promoting new public transport schemes
- Providing public transport information services
- Managing and maintaining bus interchanges, bus stops and shelters.