The West of England Combined Authority (WoECA) is a combined authority within the West of England urban area covering the local authorities of Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath and North Somerset. WECA consists of one councillor nominated from each of the three local authorities plus the elected Mayor of the West of England. WECA represents a different area to the West of England LEP which also covers North Somerset. WECA was established and acquired an elected mayor in 2017. The authority derives most of its powers from the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 and has powers over transport, economic development and regeneration.
WECA covers an estimated population of 1.1 million.
WECA's approach to skills is set out on its website here
The authority describes the benefits of the devolution of the budget as being:
- Creating more learning opportunities. National funding rules sometimes exclude some learners from accessing the courses they need. By setting the funding rules in the region, we can remove barriers to learning and create more opportunities for all residents.
- Using all the budget in the West of England. Every year around 2-3% of the AEB is not spent, and this money is returned to central government. From 2019/20, we will be able to keep that money in the region, carrying it forward to the next year to fund more learners.
- Funding courses on a longer-term basis. Providers often have to apply for funding on an annual basis. WECA wants to ensure that we have longer-term sustainable courses. Funding courses over a number of years could reduce provider costs whilst giving more security to learners