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Relaunched inquiry: Progress of Devolution in England

9 March 2020

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has relaunched its 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 regions can boost local economies and provision of public services.

Since 2014, cities and regions including Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and Cornwall have successfully negotiated bespoke devolution deals with the Governments. London gained greater devolved powers following the establishment of an assembly in 2000.

Each devolution deal involves its own arrangements for funding and increased responsibilities, but can include greater powers over areas including business support, planning, transport and health. London, and eight of the ten areas with 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.

Chair's comments

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

“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.”

Terms of reference

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee has decided to resume its inquiry into the progress of devolution in England. It has decided to adopt the evidence submitted to its predecessor committee in the 2017-19 Parliament. It is seeking new written evidence from those who did not submit last time. It would also welcome any substantially new submissions from those who submitted evidence to the former inquiry into devolution in England in the 2017-19 Parliament.

The Committee welcomes submissions of written evidence on:

  • The success and scope of devolution deals implemented, including the impact on local economies and health economies and the progress of all bids submitted by the September 2015 deadline. 
  • The geographical spread of existing deals, including to non-metropolitan areas and the impact on adjoining areas. 
  • Further powers that local areas have accumulated over time and powers they should have which they don't have already, including the specific case for London. 
  • The commitment to devolution across Government and capacity in Whitehall to promote and monitor devolution, including the Government's ability to capture relevant data at the right level – for example, in city region and combined authorities to assess the effectiveness of deals. 
  • Governance and accountability: the impact of elected mayors and whether they are necessary to make devolution a success. Public engagement with the devolution process and how scrutiny is working in practice. 
  • How access to new sources of income – for example business rate growth – have impacted local areas and how broader devolution of financial powers will affect the success of the policy. 
  • The adequacy of existing sources of income and the potential need for more sources of income for local authorities that acquire more powers. Whether further business rate retention would provide additional funding for devolved services. 
  • The potential scope of a devolution framework. Whether the current practice of bespoke deals for local areas is working or should some powers be made available to any local authority that chooses to adopt them.

Visit the inquiry webpage for more information about how to submit evidence here. The deadline for submitting written evidence is Monday 4 May 2020.

Further information

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