New inquiry launched looking into if increased devolution could boost England’s cities and regions

Friday July 12th, 2019

Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has launched a new inquiry into progress on devolution in England. The inquiry will scrutinise the impact of recently agreed devolution agreements and ask if the transfer of further powers to England’s cities and regions can boost local economies and provision of public services.Government Opportunities

Each devolution deal involves its own arrangements for funding and increased responsibilities, but can include greater responsibility over areas including business support, planning, transport and health. London, and eight of the ten newly agreed devolution deals, established directly elected mayors to oversee the implementation of new powers.

The inquiry will examine the impact of devolving increased powers in the cities and regions where deals have been agreed, and consider how any benefits can be realised in more areas of the country. It will investigate the effectiveness of the current strategy of developing bespoke deals region by region, and ask if increasing available powers without wider systemic changes would produce similar benefits. The Committee will investigate the roles of directly elected mayors, quality of scrutiny in decision making and public accountability.

Further information on devolution in England is available in the House of Commons Library briefing Devolution to local government in England.

Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, Clive Betts MP commented:

“After the creation of the London Assembly there had been little development in devolution in England for over a decade. Between 2014 and 2017 a number of English cities and regions negotiated settlements allowing more powers at a local level. This flurry of activity has since slowed with little transfer of further powers, no new deals and the promised devolution framework still unpublished.

“The approach the Government has taken is to develop bespoke arrangements for different areas, both in terms of the powers devolved to them and the administrative systems to execute them. We have launched this inquiry to understand the impact of the current approach. Has tailoring devolution to each locality improved decision making, the local economy and public services?

“Most importantly, we want to discover what opportunities there are for improving outcomes across the country. Notably in areas such as transport and health where provision doesn’t match existing local government structures, but also in improving the local economy, environment and infrastructure. We will be looking to see how improved devolution can boost cities and regions, and how it can be implemented more quickly.”

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