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LGiU calls for radical devolution framework to be in place by 2021
Outlines devolution road map ‘built on locally grown power’
The Local Government Information Unit (LGiU), today, launches a road map for how political devolution to English local government can be achieved as a means of strengthening local economies and improving public services.
This follows the publication of the Government’s Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill last week which set out how new devolution settlements will give cities greater control over transport, housing, skills and healthcare in return for establishing elected mayors.
Devolution: A Road Map, outlines the practical ways in which devolution can happen at scale and at speed to avoid a bureaucratic log jam in Whitehall. Key elements of the Road Map include: a system of accountable checks and balances overseen by Parliament (and responsive to local citizens); devolved power to networks of towns and counties across the country as well as cities; and, a culture of collaboration between local authorities, sharing expertise and resources to achieve better outcomes for the public.
Despite recent progress, Britain still remains one of the most centralised countries in the western world. Perhaps the starkest indication is that only 2 per cent of taxation in the UK is raised locally, compared with at least double that in countries such as France, Germany, the United States or Canada. The Road Map outlines the proposals required to invert the current relationship between central and local government by creating a locally led process of devolution.
The second reading of the Government’s Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill will take place in the House of Lords on Monday 8 June.
Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive, LGiU said:
“We are at a unique moment in which devolution is genuinely on the table. It would be dangerous for any government to seek to impose a single democratic blueprint for devolution to England from Whitehall and Westminster without reflecting the views and aspirations of our diverse cities, counties and communities. Devolution to a model set out by the centre is not devolution at all. There’s no need for government to try and ‘pick a winner’ among different models.
Our proposal is to invert the current relationship between central and local government by creating a locally-led process of devolution run on locally grown power. This would not involve local authorities being subject to onerous monitoring and assessment by the centre, nor would it replicate a bid system similar to that in place for the local growth fund whereby ministers set the criteria for success and hand down judgment from on high.
Substantive political devolution should occur where people locally demand it, and on the basis of powers which have been agreed locally. The Mayoral model has strengths but its weakness is that it remains an important but narrow mechanism to achieve greater local accountability and governance. Merely electing a single political representative every five years will not necessarily bring power any closer to localities.”
The Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) is a think tank and membership body with 200 councils and other organisations subscribing to our networks. We work to strengthen local democracy and put citizens in control of their own lives, communities and local services. For more information, visit lgiu.org.
About the Authors
Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive, LGiU
Jonathan leads on all aspects of the LGiU’s policy, membership and influencing work.
Prior to being appointed as Chief Executive Jonathan was Director of Policy leading LGiU’s research and consultancy, policy development and piloting, best practice dissemination, learning and development and media comment and lobbying.
Before joining the LGiU Jonathan was Deputy Programme Director and Acting Head of Programme at the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Commerce and Manufactures). At the RSA Jonathan developed and managed more than a dozen major action research projects in areas including personal carbon trading, water and sanitation provision in the developing world and the economics of migration.
Jonathan is a leading national thinker on local government transformation, local democracy and public services with a substantial media profile and sector credibility. He has published on topics as diverse as localism and public service transformation, cognitive and behavioural science, and the politics of cultural memory.
Patrick Diamond, Vice-Chair, Policy Network
Patrick was formally Research Fellow in the Department of Politics at the University of Manchester, and Gwilym Gibbon Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford. He is currently a University Lecturer in Public Policy at Queen Mary, University of London and a visiting Fellow at Kellogg College, University of Oxford and an Associate Member of Nuffield College. He is a local councillor in the London Borough of Southwark, Vice-Chair of the think-tank Policy Network, a member of the Advisory Board of theSocial Market Foundation, and sits on the Scientific Council of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies. Patrick held a number of senior posts in British central government between 2000 and 2010, and was formally Head of Policy Planning in 10 Downing Street. He has been a trustee of the Bromley by Bow Centre, a pioneering voluntary organisation led by the local community in East London.
Patrick has contributed op-ed articles to the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Independent, the Wall Street Journal, the Times Educational Supplement, the New Statesman, Progress, Renewal, and Tribune. He comments regularly on numerous national media outlets, and has given interviews on the BBC Radio Today programme, the Westminster Hour, Start the Week, Newsnight, Sky News with Adam Boulton, and CNBC news. He contributes to other European newspapers and journals including Die Zeit, Italianieuropei,Berliner Republik, and Berlin Network.