The CBI’s new report – based upon conversations with business, stakeholders, local and national government, and shaped by CBI member input – calls on government to provide a long-term plan for the future of devolution in England. A plan that enables the country to reignite the regions, address the productivity puzzle, and close the gap on inequality across England.
Outside of London, English devolution is still in its formative stages. The idea is that by giving funding and powers to local areas, and allowing key decisions relating to productivity to be made closer to the places they affect, this could support in unlocking regional growth.
Business recognises the opportunities that could come from further devolution in England, which includes a raised international profile for the region, clarity over the strategic direction and improved collaboration with neighbours across the region and the country.
This is not to say that there aren’t challenges. As the report highlights, businesses have cited concerns around the additional bureaucracy and complexity that devolution may bring, as well as the risk of a patch work approach that could exacerbate existing inequalities between regions.
With this in mind, it is key that government works in collaboration with business in order to make progress on this important initiative. If done right, this could play an important role in unlocking regional growth and addressing the growing levels of inequality across the country.
The report highlights three steps the government should take in order to kickstart devolution and maximise the potential of English regions.
- Step one: Develop and publish a framework for devolution
- Step two: Optimise Westminster and Whitehall for devolution
- Step three: Deliver new deals and streamline local government