Queen's speech: Devolution White Paper to set out 'structural reform'

By Martin Ford | 14 October 2019

An English devolution White Paper is planned by the Government, it has been confirmed in the Queen’s Speech.

She said that the White Paper would ‘set out my Government’s ambitions for unleashing regional potential in England, and to enable decisions that affect local people to be made at a local level’.

The Government has pledged ‘structural and institutional reform’, arguing: ‘With more powers and funds must come more local democratic responsibility and accountability.’

The paper will set out to increase the number of devolution deals and mayors, in addition to ‘levelling’ up the powers between mayoral combined authorities.

The Government said the legislation would aim to increase economic growth and productivity and devolving decision-making, arguing that only Bristol is fulfilling its potential as a non-capital city.

A document published by Downing Street stated: ‘We want to expand the benefits of devolution across England and put more trust in local people to choose what is best for their communities.’

Currently 37% of residents in England and 50% in the North, are now served by city region mayors.

The Government also said that Growth Deals will be delivered with the devolved administrations and reaffirmed its commitment to continue the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine strategies.

Responding to the announcement, Local Government Association chairman Cllr James Jamieson argued in favour of a package of devolved powers available to all of English local government, rather than bespoke deals.

He added: ‘This is vital so that all parts of England have the opportunity and certainty to reap the benefits of having greater powers and funding to improve services such as housing, transport, and health and social care.

‘There is clear and significant evidence that outcomes improve and the country gets better value for money when councils have the freedoms and funding to make local decisions.’

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