The University of Manchester and Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) play host to the Making Devolution Work conference next week. To mark the event CLES’s Chief Executive Neil McInroy writes the first of a series of blogs around the conference, examining what devolution could mean for the region and country.
Framed by austerity, the economic reality behind many voters choosing Brexit was a future of little promise – insecure jobs, insecure public provision, insecure futures. As a result, many leave voters felt that they had little or nothing to lose. On the back of an economic recession eight years ago, insecurity and a social recession has been built.
The EU referendum has shone a light on the failure of the treasury’s local economic and devolution model. The ‘devolution revolution’ may have beguiled some, but it has passed many by. The promised ‘northern powerhouse’ was a canny brand which few saw any tangible outcome from. Indeed, I know of many economic development practitioners who felt that austerity framed devolution and its bullish treasury-backed city agglomeration ‘growth at all costs’ approach was flawed. However, they rightly got on with it, longing for it to be just a start, and something to grapple, amend and make progressive.
Local authority becomes first in England to take control of its health and social care budget, but there is widespread uncertainty.
More devolution of powers and budgets from Whitehall offers councils the chance to tackle poverty and inequality by ‘doing things differently’.
A think-tank has urged councils to use new devolved powers from Westminster to help tackle poverty and inequality.
The announcement that the £6bn NHS budget in Greater Manchester will be devolved to the city region has taken many by surprise. The government has already devolved £2bn of spending to the city region. This proposal (the details of which still need to be worked up) is worth three times that amount, devolving nationally controlled structures such as hospitals and GPs to merge with local support and community care services. Greater Manchester will create a new ‘health and wellbeing’ commission to control the flow of money across the system, and to create links between primary and community and residential care.