In the News

More English devolution

Mike McCartney

3rd August 2022

This time for North Yorkshire

This development will be of particular interest to the people at Tutor2u (!?) but it is also another excellent opportunity to discuss ongoing constitutional reforms, and the first substantial move forward in transferring power downwards from central government since the levelling up agenda was fleshed out in law.

Before looking at some of the plans in detail, a reminder on the arguments for and against more regional devolution...

These can be considered as the arguments in favour of English regional devolution

  • It is much more efficient to have the regions concerned with policy delivery involved in the formulation of policy,
  • On a related note, this would additionally this would relieve the burden on central government.
  • Evidence from the Celtic arenas suggests that there are clear benefits to bringing the government closer to the people since policies can be designed to fit the needs of the people in different regions
  • The governmental structures we have now are in need of remodelling: local government was designed to fit the needs of the mid-nineteenth century and central government expanded in the middle of the twentieth to meet the demands of that time.
  • Since the (unelected) Regional Development Agencies were scrapped in 2012 there is a lack of strategic co-ordination across many regions (except London, and Greater Manchester for example) with regards to economic development, regeneration, plans to boost employment, and so forth.
  • It would provide a counter-point to London-centricism; it is difficult to think of another polity that is so dominated economically and politically by its nation’s biggest city.
  • The regions in England need to have a platform that will give their area a voice enabling them to lobby central government for increased funding.

These can be considered as the arguments against English regional devolution

  • If every region in England were to have some sort of devolution, then regions would be fighting amongst themselves for the same amount of money that was available before.
  • Government would not be brought closer to the people unless the devolved powers assume real powers – as in Scotland.
  • Any new structures would merely add an extra layer of bureaucracy.
  • Regional assemblies would do little to improve economic performance within the regions.
  • Claims that devolution would usher in a new form of politics have not been borne out by experiences in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

According to the Guardian:

"York and North Yorkshire are to elect a mayor and receive £540m of government investment over 30 years in a landmark devolution deal to be signed on Monday.

The agreement will create a new combined authority across the region led by a directly elected mayor, who will have the power to spend the money on local priorities such as transport, education and housing.

It is the first city and rural region to see devolution on the scale enjoyed by city regions such as South and West Yorkshire, according to the Department for Levelling Up."

The article goes on to say:

"Residents will elect a mayor in May 2024 if the proposed deal becomes reality.

The plans aim to tackle regional inequalities by not only reducing the national north-south divide, but also helping to address economic differences between urban and rural areas."

It is worth adding, as the article states:

"The deal is the first of 13 devolution negotiations named in February’s Levelling Up white paper, which detailed plans for creating better opportunities outside the south-east of England."

The link to the store is here.

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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