Fostering more industrious places - getting the Devolution Revolution back on track

PUBLISHED 21 Aug 2017, 0:01


In early 2017 the Government published an industrial strategy green paper 'Building our Industrial Strategy' which included the ambition of ensuring "that every place meets its potential". The strategy is a major step in the right direction, but there are some gaps. One of these is the ambition around Devolution Deals which has been limited to "our largest cities".

Devolution is an important policy tool and should not be restricted to just some parts of the country. It can help to close the productivity gap between London and the South East and other regions. As an approach it also offers:

  • faster and more responsive actions on local barriers to growth
  • local leadership on solutions
  • ensures better alignment between national policy and local opportunities and challenges

The number one challenge in manufacturers' local business environment is the state of local transport networks and the quality of local public transport. Understandably, this is where manufacturers want devolution to be focused - on transport and infrastructure investment - and so far it has been. But not all areas have Devolution Deals, manufacturing is based right across the country and most companies will be outside existing Deal areas. The benefits of devolution must be available to all and not just to some.

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The limits in the industrial strategy on spreading devolution across England therefore matters and must be reversed. Spreading devolution to all areas of England needs to be the main ambition behind the Government's policy on place as part of the industrial strategy. Establishing strong governance of place through Devolution Deals will subsequently allow a more meaningful conversation to take place on how each area can support the industrial strategy.

Getting new areas to sign up to Deals will necessitate something new from government and this reports sets out how central government can streamline the process as part of industrial strategy to get more Deals over the line.

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