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Restoring Britain’s City States: Devolution, public service reform and local economic growth

Publication Details

The debate on devolution, not only between parliaments, but for cities and other places across the whole of the UK, has never been more important to the future of our country. In the runup to the 2015 General Election all major parties have committed to devolution in some form and it will be a key issue in manifestos.

Downloads: Full ReportExecutive Summary

This report sets out the shared ambition of ResPublica and the Core Cities Group – Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield – for the fullest possible devolution of public spending and tax raising powers to the UK’s largest cities and city regions. It argues for a rebalancing of the relationship between central government and cities, as the only real solution for addressing the interconnected challenges of local economic growth, public service reform and better governance.

Devolving powers to new and emerging city regions and combined authorities will have the capacity to change and transform their social and economic environment, and will be essential if cities are to deliver on the twin objectives of growth and reform. The report argues that cities will need far greater control over public resources to shape local economies and design integrated place-based services that meet local needs and achieve local outcomes, and that  UK cities must enjoy equivalent levels of self-governance to other international cities and municipalities if they are to compete and prosper.

The report offers a roadmap for city based devolution, and eight recommendations to ensure that the current momentum in the devolution debate is not lost, demanding action which starts before the 2015 General Election.



  • Pre-election: there must be legislative reform to give authorities greater flexibility in working across functional economic areas.
  • Post-election: in the first 100 days of the next parliament a Devolution Agency needs to be established to oversee the changes.
  • 1st year: devolved funds for transport, housing and employment.
  • By 2016: a devolution pilot in one city region where income and corporation tax variation would be devolved and implemented.
  • By 2020: pilot extended to all city regions.


Press Coverage:

Devolution for Greater Manchester

Respublica recently published its report calling for Greater Manchester to have control over the £22 billion it spends each year on public services, with accompanying...

ResPublica commences new project in partnership with the Core Cities group

ResPublica has partnered with the Core Cities group to explore and present a fresh vision for the future shape of England’s public services, and its inextricable link to local economic growth....

ResPublica’s #DevoManc report adopted by Government

Greater Manchester and Govt reach trailblazing agreement, based on ResPublica’s report DevoMax – DevoManc....

Manchester City Council
Phillip Blond on ResPublica’s new publication ‘Devo Max – Devo...

A devolutionary plan for cities, not just Scotland (0:54:40)....

BBC Radio 4
  • Phillip Blond


    Phillip is an internationally recognised political thinker and social and economic commentator. He bridges the gap between politics and practice, offering strategic consultation and policy formation to governments, businesses and organisations across the world. He founded ResPublica in 2009 and...

    Phillip Blond
  • Mark Morrin

    Principal Research Consultant

    Mark is ResPublica’s Localism Lead. He will be focusing on our new projects and workstreams, working in partnership with city-regions, to radicalise the localism agenda and realise a new vision for local economic growth and public sector reform. Mark has...

    Mark Morrin


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