No devolution deal will be signed off unless local enterprise partnerships are ‘at the heart’ of proposals, communities secretary Greg Clark has warned.

In a speech to the LEPs Network this week, Mr Clark said the partnerships between councils and business had been “a phenomenal revolution” and that they had “completely changed the way investment and growth is done in this country”.

Greg Clark

Greg Clark discussed potential barriers to devolution in a speech earlier this week

“You have worked together to create economic growth and jobs and we want to see more of this,” he said. “There is now much more collaboration between business and local authorities, which is vindication that the model works.”

Mr Clark added: “The areas that combined authorities are now following are the same areas defined by LEPs as being the true economic geography of our nation.

“As such no devolution deal will be signed off unless it is absolutely clear LEPs will also be at the heart of arrangements.”

The Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill was discussed for second time at committee stage in the House of Lords this week.

All of the amendments discussed on Wednesday were either withdrawn or not moved, although Lord Beecham said peers would “need to return to some of these matters” when the bill reaches the report stage.

Among those will be an amendment from Baroness Wheatcroft, which proposed mayors should be given the power to issue local bonds to raise funds for specific development projects.

Baroness Williams of Trafford, the Department for Communities and Local Government’s minister in the Lords, has expressed reluctance to see any of the tabled amendments added to the bill, but said Baroness Wheatcroft’s proposal should be “commended”.

Peers will resume their discussion of the proposed amendments to the bill next week.

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