Experts divided on devolution

By Martin Ford | 28 May 2021

The debate over bespoke devolution deals or a national framework has re-emerged with the publication of an Industrial Strategy Council report.

Speaking at the launch of the report, former local government secretary Greg Clark said he was ‘not convinced’ by what he termed a ‘constitutional’ approach aimed at ‘consistency across the country’.

Mr Clark said he remained in favour of the tailored approach of devolution deals taken during his tenure.

He continued: ‘There’s a varying appetite for doing things differently.

'It comes with a price of being administratively messy, but Britain is messy.

‘The biggest powers have gone where there are mayors.

'That’s a more coherent, accountable way of transferring power.'

But deputy director of the Local Governance Research Centre, Dr Arianna Giovannini, took the view that a national approach was needed to drive devolution.

She said: ‘Without a coherent strategy there would be no levelling up.

‘You can’t have levelling up without a process of devolution.’

Director of policy and research at the Centre for Cities think-tank, Paul Swinney, also argued that bespoke deals risked ‘compounding the patchwork quilt we have already got’ in terms of regional government.

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