Devolution is a great opportunity. After years of oppressive centralisation, devolution deals offer local authorities a chance to break free and forge their own approaches to economic development.
As it stands, however, the devolution agenda encompasses myriad risks and challenges for local authorities, with city deals characterised by unnecessarily conservative ambitions, a series of policy missteps and, at root, a flawed economic philosophy.
George Osborne was right to push for devolution as forcefully as he did – but his “my way or no way” approach to city deals seriously jeopardised the agenda’s credibility. If new prime minister Theresa May means it when she preaches inclusion and rebalancing, then Osborne’s departure is an opportunity to reset regional policy in a more sustainable direction.
But if devolution is to succeed, several things will have to change, and quickly.
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