Trowers & Hamlins

Sign up

Home » Resources » Blog » Devolution: Just the Beginning?

Devolution: Just the Beginning?
Trowers Public Insight

Devolution: Just the Beginning?

As the dust settles and there is either relief or disappointment at the maintenance of the union, the Scottish referendum has invigorated the argument for greater devolution of powers to cities and regions.

As the Prime Minister sets out what "Devo Max" will look like for Scotland - there are already growing calls for cities across England to be given greater powers to the benefit of their local economies.

The arguments for greater devolution are not new, localism has been a concept many of the political parties have put their own individual spin on. But as 90% of the UK population will live in urban areas by 2020, it is argued that significant fiscal devolution - whereby local authorities are able to raise money through a range of existing or new taxes - could invigorate local economies and rebalance the London economic bias.

A report by the Institute for Public Policy Research North thinktank, launched by Nick Clegg in September, sets out a vision for radical devolution plans to English cities and regions - shifting power away from Whitehall. It is argued that cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle should be given powers enjoyed by cities and regions in Europe, which have been at the forefront of the economic renaissance across continental Europe.

The report states that local authorities should be given control over council tax (including the ability to introduce new tax bands) and business rates. Further a review of property taxes should be undertaken and the centralised control of such taxes removed.

What these arguments also impact on is the future form of both central and local government. There is sense in more Combined Authorities - able to wield greater economic freedoms to the benefit of their regions - and a reduction in the resource currently sitting in Westminster. These suggestions have significant implications for how the country is governed and will need to be addressed.

Whilst the union may be secure - and we await to hear what Devo Max will be - is "Devo England" next on the agenda?