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Move functions of central government out to cities

Last updated: 11:01am 21 November 2019

First, we recognise the value of institutions to the vitality of towns and cities. As we explain in chapter two, it is why we are determined to move many of the functions of central government out to cities around Britain where possible…

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.24

Our verdict

This pledge continues a trend of devolution in England which began in 2014 and is supported in law by the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016. Devolution is conducted through the establishment of combined authorities and through directly elected mayors.  There are currently ten devolution deals across England, shifting public planning from central government to cities including Manchester, Sheffield and Liverpool. This is a pledge to bolster devolution, moving many of the functions of central government out to cities where possible.

The vehicle for moving functions away from central government is the combined authority. We’ve looked in detail at government support for the creation of new combined authorities in a related policy, “Support authorities that wish to combine“. We rated that policy as ‘in progress’, with only one new combined authority established under this government, and plans for others not implemented.

The government has only devolved functions to one new area, and our related policy verdict suggests it has not taken every opportunity to create new combined authorities. For a government determined to devolve functions “where possible”, achieving only one new devolution deal is not a successful outcome. This policy remains ‘in progress’.

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