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.
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.
The report also received broadcast coverage; our Director Phillip Blond was interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland, BBC News Channel, BBC Leeds, BBC One’s Reporting Scotland and STV.
Published: 09 February 2015
Key recommendations of the report include:
All major political parties should set out their commitment to a radical programme of devolution to the UK’s Core Cities in their 2015 General Election manifestos.
The next UK Government should establish an independent body, the Devolution Agency, to take forward the process of devolution for all the UK’s cities and regions in general and England’s in particular.
The next UK Government should commit to extending the legislative framework for city-based devolution.
The next UK Government should achieve full place-based devolution and avoid siloed decentralisation.
The next UK Government should deliver fiscal devolution to the Core Cities by the end of the next Parliament.
The next UK Government should enact a ‘Duty to Collaborate’, to commit all city authorities to collaborate with neighbouring authorities and all other public and private sector partners at the trans-city level to form combined authorities or other models of collaborative working and association.
Cities should commit to new levels of accountability and governance.
Cities should commit to a model for devolving still further to localities.
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...
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.
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