Rumours abound that the government is about to shore-up Boris Johnson’s legacy by announcing a wide-ranging devolution deal, possibly including a formal role in London’s healthcare.
Such a role could address concerns that NHS reforms have resulted in “a lack of strategic oversight” over the capital’s healthcare, and answer calls for London to enjoy the same control over its health and social care budgets as recently granted to Manchester.
Other options claimed to be under consideration include more regeneration and development funding and greater responsibility for skills and education.
The rumoured deal would build on existing plans to pass control of the capital’s fire brigade to the Mayor and the ‘long-term economic plan’ unveiled last year which handed Johnson greater powers to tackle London’s housing shortage.
Full details of the new powers could be announced at next week’s Conservative party conference at which both Boris and the party’s candidate to succeed him next year – widely expected to be Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith – would be present.
Mr Johnson has used much of his second term to call for increased powers, including more control of tax revenue raised in London and oversight of the capital’s criminal justice system, and the rumoured deal would allow him to leave office claiming a personal and enduring legacy.
It could also provide a major boost to the party’s hopes of winning a third term at City Hall by helping to convince voters that a Tory mayor would be better placed than Labour’s Sadiq Khan to secure further powers in the term ahead.
And beefing up the Mayor’s powers, especially in the area of healthcare, could increase the relevance of the post to Londoners’ lives and potentially drive up turnout in next year’s election.