City Deals and Wider Devolution approaches in England

This resource was initially put together for a study tour of Dutch Civil servants working on the Dutch Urban Agenda. They visited Birmingham and then London and saw a wide range of people from Government, Local Government, Academics, Civil Society and Thinktanks. This tour directly infleunced the role out of the Dutch Urban Agenda. This resources has since been added to


Inclusive Growth Commission – Emerging Findings September 2016 download here

The interim report sets out a short-term roadmap towards inclusive growth, based on:

  • Inclusive Devolution and the Autumn statement. The Government should set out how the next phase of more ‘grown up devolution’ can promote inclusive growth.
  • Investment in social as well as physical infrastructure. 
  • Putting inclusion in industry strategy. The Government is currently developing a new industry strategy, and this must have a strong local dimension and inclusive growth as one of its central objectives.
  • Economic policy and measurement frameworks that prioritise inclusive growth.

More information here.

The Impact of BREXIT on UK Cities – Metro Dynamics July 2016

Download here

Everything you need to know about metro mayors: an FAQ  Centre for Cities June 2016

Web Page here


BETTER RATES: How to Ensure the New Business Rates Regime Promotes Growth Everywhere IPPR June 2016

They argue for a ‘growth first’ model where every authority has an incentive to promote growth in business rate income but there is a built in mechanism to make sure poorer and needier authorities don’t lose out.

Website here

Download here  (Summary here)

PSE Article (here)

Directly-elected Mayors, House of Commons Library Briefing Paper Number 05000   May 2016 

A description of the evolution of the directly elected mayor governance mechanism in England from the Local Government Act 2000 onwards

Web Page here

Download here

DecentralisationDecentralisation: Issues Principles and Practice. Report by Newcastle University CURDs May 2016

Web page here 

Download here

It recommends

  • Clarifying the rationales and principles of decentralisation with a decentralisation ‘road map’
  • Reforming ‘deals’ and ‘deal-making’ through: clarifying their principles, rationales, frameworks, criteria etc
  • Co-ordinating and simplifying decentralisation geographies by establishing a Decentralisation Commission
  • Rebalancing the public finance system following a comprehensive review of the balance and nature of taxing, spending and redistribution between the central national and local levels,
  • Clarifying and enhancing accountability, transparency and scrutiny by supporting the establishment of a National Constitutional Convention

How devolving transport policy can change our cities,  IPPR North March 2016

Web page here

Download here

National Audit Office Report on English Devolution Deals. April 2016

‘central government should clarify the core purposes of devolution deals as well as who will be responsible and accountable for devolved services and functions’

Link to web page here

Download Full Report here

Understanding the Northern Powerhouse (aka A Fuzzy Concept)  Neil Lee LSE Jan/February 2016

Presentation here

Article here

If devolution in England is to be effective the government needs to address the lack of process. Blog post by Ed Cox March 2016 here

 Examining the role of ‘informal governance’ on devolution to England’s cities, Report by the Policy Studies Association, March 2016  here  

Making Devolution Deals Work Guide by the Institute of Government. January 2016 here

The Devolution Revolution must go Farther.‘  A report by the Communities and Local Government Committee on the process of devolution in the UK so far. February 3rd 2016

web page here

Download here

Cities and Local Government Act 2016  1st February 2o16

download here and Explanatory notes – download here

Local government and the nations: a devolution revolution? David Phillips, Institute of Fiscal Studies November 25th 2015 (video)


Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill 2015-16 [HL] Briefing Paper House of Lords Briefing October 2015

here and web page here

English Devolution:  Democratic, Constitutional, Financial and Strategic Deficits Post by Bob Hudson @Bob_Hudson 1st December 2015



Metro Dynamics Review of the Devolution Deals So Far November 30th 2015

Download here

West Midlands Devolution Deal November 17th 2015

Web page here

Download here

Liverpool Devolution Deal November 17th 2015

Web page here

Download here

North East Combined Authority  Devolution Deal October 23rd 2015

Web page here

Down load here

Tees Valley Devolution Deal October 23rd 2015

Web page here

Down load here

Sheffield Devolution Deal October 2nd 2015

Web Page here

Download here

Cornwall Devolution Deal 22nd July 2015

Web Page here

Down load here

Cities and Local Government Draft Bill 2015 – Briefing Paper – 9th October 2015

Web Page




Day 1

Day 2

BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND LINKS (Those with a * are really key)

 This page is attempting to pull together key resources for anyone trying to under stand the current Devolution maelstrom in England. There are few that argue that it is not good to devolve power from Whitehall but there are differences of opinion as to whether it has gone far enough; whether the focus on cities or cities with combined authorities is sufficient. The development in recent months of the Northern Powerhouse has introduced a different aspect – still urban focussed but linked urban. There are others that suggest devolution should apply to all local government – not just Cities.
England is one of the most centralised Governmental systems in Europe. Big Cities like Birmingham raise only about 20% of the resources they need and therefore rely on Central Government for the remaining 80%. A big area of debate currently is the local business rate. This is set nationally but collected locally and sent straight to Whitehall. Local Government organisations have been pushing for greater control of these funds and recently Greater Manchester and Cambridge have won the right to keep any increases in this tax revenue – so giving an incentive for cities to invest in projects that create economic growth. There are other more limited concession along these lines – as under the Enterprise Zone programme – however which is not directly tied in with the devolution agenda. A description about how Birmingham is using these powers is contained here
I have attempted to briefly summarise the development of the approach to devolution in England here – this is now slightly out of date as policy is moving on a regular basis.
Policy Links
The Government Policy Document behind the initial City Deals approach – Unlocking Growth in Cities *  Lobbying from various organisations from Centre for Cities, Core Cities, The London Finance Commission  drove this initial focus on Cities. More latterly the City Growth Commission – hosted by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) have been driving this urban focussed agenda.
Importantly Lord Heseltine’s No Stone Unturned in the Pursuit of Growth marked a crucial turning point in Government Policy – moving the approach from a City only approach to an England wider devolution agenda. This led to the establishment of the local growth fund, strategic economic plans at LEP level and then Growth Deals.
The City Growth Commission’s report Unleashing Metro Growth * – has brought the agenda back to Cities – and following on from this there have been further announcements around devolution to Manchester in particular and support for the Northern Powerhouse. See Latest RSA report  – link below for up to date information.
Wave 1 City Deals – July 2012 – onwards
  • A useful summary of 1st phase City Deals for the 8 core cities – here *
  • This is the website with the links to all these City Deals – here
  • A summary of the Greater Birmingham City Deal can be found here (added March 27th)
  • The Greater Birmingham City Deal can be found here *
  • Centre for Cities – reflection on these Core City Deals – here
  • Core Cities policy document reflecting on the City Deals and arguing for further devolution (here) (added March 27th)

Wave 2 City Deals – October 2012 onwards

  • Brief details here for 20 further Cities.
  • Centre for Cities – early comments on Wave 2 here *
  • An early critique of Wave 2 (in particular) City Deals from David Marlow here*
Growth Deals
  • Centre for Cities review of Growth Deals here *
  • Greater Birmingham and Solihull’s Growth Deal can be found here * and extra funding here
This is a useful website from the Local Government Association with comments on various aspects of the City Deal process from various local politicians – here
Discussions in the Press/Web

A report/article from the Centre for Local Economic Strategies – warning of the dangers of the devolution approach just following the similar economic model to that pursued nationally currently

Ed Cox from the IPPR North saying that devolution needs to go far deeper.
Andrew Walker from the Local Government Information Unit arguing for devolution across all local government – not just the metro areas
Simon Jenkins from the Guardian outlining in an article some of the politics and people behind the success of Manchester in driving the city devolution agenda.
A fascinating audio link * (of circa 15 minutes) with a discussion on the devolution agenda in England in recent years between Professors’ Michael Parkinson (Liverpool John Moores University) and Tony Travers (London School of Economics) with Brian Groom (an ex Financial Times journalist) and Andrew Carter (Acting Head of Centre for Cities). Organised by the Centre for Cities
Latest Reports
RSA – Devo Met – Charting the Path Ahead: * A report published on 24th March 2015 by the Royal Society of Arts – summarising progress since the publication of the City Growth Commission report, looking at the different approaches to devolution of the main parties and proposing a Commission to negotiate a comprehensive and far reaching devolution deal for metropolitan areas

Respublica Report – Restoring Britain’s City States: Devolution, public service reform and local economic growth  February 2015. Working with the Core Cities group the report  argues for far greater devolution including income and corporation tax variation powers for city regions.

Local Government Association supported report by the Independent Commission on Non Metropolitan Growth published in March 2015 – argues for devolution to all areas – not just metropolitan areas
Localis Report on the Future of the LEPs March 2015
A review of wave  one City Deals.
Academic Papers
For a good overview this paper prepared in January 2014 is a good start.
Communities and Local Government Select Committee Inquiry into the ‘Fiscal Devolution to Cities and City Regions’ (January 2014) Written evidence submitted by the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS), Newcastle University –
Professor John Tomaney UCL/Bartlett speaking to Ben Harrison at the Centre for Cities – audio file 24 minutes here

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