LGIU says, “Others may have given up on devolution but we haven’t”
New report suggests levelling up and building back better will only be achieved through a new constitutional, political and social settlement
Today, the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) published their latest report, A New Settlement for Place, revealing that the Government’s aims for ‘levelling up’ and ‘building back better’ can only be achieved through the implementation of a new constitutional, political and social settlement, centred around the needs of local places.
Following the Government’s announcement that the Devolution White Paper will be replaced by levelling up proposals, this report calls for a new settlement for place that reconnects the Government’s levelling up ambitions with the decentralisation of power in England. In recent years, the momentum on English devolution has been lost but the pandemic has underlined the fundamental importance of shifting power to places and people.
Though the debate has moved away from devolution, LGIU still believes that it is the best way to empower communities and places. The key recommendations include giving local leaders the necessary tools to pursue levelling up, introducing a sustainable funding model for local government and ensuring a commitment to further decentralisation across all Whitehall departments to give local government a stronger voice in national policy decisions. The report concludes that place-shaping has to be driven primarily by communities and citizens to ensure effective political devolution.
A New Settlement for Place was undertaken by Andrew Walker, Head of Research at LGIU, with Farah Hussein and Dr Patrick Diamond of the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary, University of London, and funded by Research England. Through a series of interviews, briefings and seminars with LGIU member councils, a set of ideas and case studies were developed around the role of place in post-pandemic recovery. An embargoed copy of the report is available upon request.
LGIU’s new Local Democracy Research Centre (LDRC), which formally launches alongside A New Settlement for Place, will help champion these issues across the globe by unlocking the latest research and bringing together experts from local government and academia to do practical research on some of the key challenges for local democracy around the world.
A virtual discussion will be hosted by LGIU and chaired by Andrew Walker on Wednesday 16 June (10am-11:30am) to launch A New Settlement and formally open the door to the LDRC. Speakers will include Patrick Diamond (Queen Mary, University of London), Dr Arianna Giovannini (De Montfort University), Professor James Mitchell (The University of Edinburgh), Dr Mark Callanan (the Institute of Public Administration), and Professor Juliette Kayyem (the Harvard Kennedy School). The launch is open to press so if you would like to attend, please RSVP here.
Andrew Walker, Head of Research, LGIU said: “Everyone is buying into the idea that levelling up has replaced devolution but we know that you can’t have one without the other.
Place is demonstrably crucial for post-pandemic recovery. ‘Place-blind’ policies often fail to achieve their outcomes. Successive governments have sought to integrate place into their policy approaches, but there is a growing belief that progress is stalling.
The current government has an understanding of place exclusively focused on ‘levelling-up’. It sees ‘place’ as a more electorally salient approach to redistributing resources that is concerned with capital spending on physical infrastructure.
However, effective place-shaping has to be driven primarily by communities and citizens. Place-shaping without effective political devolution is a contradiction. To make further progress, future governments will need to commit to a sustained programme of English devolution which includes a viable funding model for local government.”
Notes to editors
About the Local Democracy Research Centre
The all-new Local Democracy Research Centre brings together experts from local government and academia to do practical research on some of the key challenges for local democracy around the world.Our research is guided and supported by LGIU’s global members. Through the Local Democracy Research Centre, we are developing a broad, international programme that engages universities and local authorities to develop new ideas and approaches for governance, municipalism and citizen participation. The projects are rooted in practice but draw on insights and ideas from academia.
LGIU (Local Government Information Unit) was established in 1983 as an independent, not-for-profit local authority membership organisation and think tank. Now as LGIU England & Wales, LGIU Scotland, LGIU Ireland and LGIU Australia we work for and with local authorities around the world, helping them to serve their citizens more effectively. Our members are councils and other organisations with an interest in local government.
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