The UK2070 published their comprehensive, large scale plan last week – 𝗚𝗼 𝗕𝗶𝗴 – 𝗚𝗼 𝗟𝗼𝗰𝗮𝗹: 𝗔 𝗡𝗲𝘄 𝗗𝗲𝗮𝗹 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗟𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗨𝗽 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗨𝗞. It stated:
“The UK is the most centralised major developed economy inhibiting national economic growth. A real transfer of fiscal power to local and devolved governments is urgently required to allow recovery”
So, what shall we do?
The Government have a huge and unfathomable challenge to deliver its devo promises and accelerate recovery – no more so than in the North. The pandemic has heightened awareness of prevailing regional disparities and inequalities. How we live, work, rest and play has changed forever.
The relationship we have with our homes and the need to build back better homes, places, health and wellbeing is now front and centre in the nation’s mind. It is clear that the central command approach from No.10 is not working for those left behind towns and regions. The regional voice needs to heard and we need more devolved powers sooner rather than later. The time is NOW.
So naturally, I am very disappointed by the “delay” to the Devolution and Local Recovery White Paper. We are hearing this will be published next year but perhaps not even until the next Parliament. My disappointment is not just because I am a huge fan of devolution in principle, it’s because I believe the case for GOOD and better devolution has never been stronger.
Devolution is surely the solution to levelling-up and tackling regional inequalities? If I am right, then Devolution must also be key to accelerate the build, build, build of green, healthy, sustainable homes and places across the North.
The Devolution White Paper needed first and foremost to signal a massive empowerment of existing City Region Mayors. Most are already working to transform their local Industrial strategies into a Local Recovery Plans BUT they need more powers and more trust from Government to get on with it. They need help in delivering the much-needed growth required if we are to stop unemployment reaching double figures and youth unemployment back up to 1 million.
The North needs to collaborate and whilst I am disappointed that we have been waiting for Government to come up trumps for a Devo 3.0, the delay provides an opportunity to shape and inform what good and better devolution should look like. Now is the time to shape and inform the debate on what “Good Devo” looks like and ensure that we meet my 6 tests of Devo 3.0.
The North need to collaborate join-up and bang the collective drum for more and better devolution. We need to work together and shape Government’s thinking on devolution – it has already shown it is capable of making U turns and we need to lobby for a far better White Paper from Government and set out what the North needs.
Now is the time to make the case that extreme centralisation inhibits national economic growth and productivity, erodes the capacity for local action and for innovation and flexibility. The North needs to call for a new deal and a genuine transfer of fiscal and strategic political powers.
Devolution is the solution to levelling-up.
Gill Morris, CEO of DevoConnect