Devolution to English cities in the light of Lord Heseltine’s report ‘Empowering English cities’, House of Lords, 17 July 2019

Local leaders should be given the responsibility and funding to address long-standing challenges and maximise opportunities. Bringing power and resources closer to people is the key to delivering better outcomes for communities and inclusive growth across the country.


  • The Local Government Association (LGA) is calling for a new localism settlement for England that empowers local communities and revitalises our democracy. Our recommendations would support local government to deliver the best outcomes for their local places.
  • The Mayoral Combined Authorities and other devolution areas have already begun to demonstrate the benefits of devolution. Lord Heseltine’s ‘Empowering English Cities’ is a welcome recognition of the unique potential offered by local leaders to better invest in local priorities for growth and better co-ordinate public services that meet the needs of place.
  • In recent years the pace of devolution in England has slowed. Progress has been made in large metropolitan areas, but communities in the rest of the country have been largely left behind. More needs to be done to bring the long held promise of greater devolution to the rest of the country, particularly the towns and communities of non-metropolitan England.
  • With Whitehall set to be focused on responding to the demands of the EU Exit for the foreseeable future, there will not be the capacity at a national level to negotiate individual devolution deals, which has been the model so far. A new localism settlement needs to move beyond specific deals to a package of sustainably-funded, locally-led public service reform that is available to all of English local government.
  • Local leaders should be given the responsibility and funding to address long-standing challenges and maximise opportunities. Bringing power and resources closer to people is the key to delivering better outcomes for communities and inclusive growth across the country.
  • The LGA has published several recent policy documents that outline how further devolution can benefit English cities, including our Councils Can and Work Local reports.
  • Councils Can sets out how a new localism settlement could strengthen communities and local government. This needs to be underpinned in a Queen’s Speech by an English Devolution Bill, a Local Government Finance Bill and a sustainable funding settlement in the Spending Review.
  • Work Local outlines the urgent need for a new devolved and integrated approach to careers, training, employment and skills provision. This would allow councils to lead the service and tailor interventions to specific labour and skills gaps.

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Devolution to English cities in the light of Lord Heseltine’s report ‘Empowering English cities’, House of Lords, 17 July 2019