Moving in the right direction for devolved powers, but all hangs on Spending Review

By Mike Steventon, Senior Partner of KPMG in Birmingham

Last week, the Chancellor responded to Lord Heseltine’s report on regional growth – ‘No Stone Unturned’ – and it came as no surprise that he chose to incorporate many of Lord Heseltine’s recommendations. 

With growth remaining elusive the Chancellor must look at the potential of the UK as a whole.  With significant potential existing in many of the country’s regions, nurturing, building and exploiting theses opportunities will be critical to the future sustainable prosperity of the UK economy.

The Government’s response to Lord Heseltine’s proposals on the devolution of power and funds to the UK regions is encouraging.  However, LEP’s shouldn’t be celebrating just yet as decisions remain outstanding.

The real celebration will come post Spending Review when the Chancellor sets out the size of the single pot from which to LEPs are to bid.  It will be at this time that we will get a greater understanding as to whether the Government is fully committed to devolving authority and responsibilities to the regions to shape and drive regeneration.

Until that time, the real level of willingness to implement this strategy remains for the time being, pending.

With Government department cuts already announced, the negotiations between now and the Spending Review are likely to be intense.  If the single pot becomes too small, then we are in danger of diluting the ability of the LEPs to implement their plans before we’ve even got out of the starting blocks.

Let’s hope that isn’t the case and that the Government focuses its commitment on rebalancing the UK economy by preserving a substantial sum to allow this strategy to work.

There is a great willingness between both the civic and business leadership to create the right environment for their regions to thrive.  For those LEPs that can demonstrate realistic and game changing strategies, backed up by robust governance, the opportunities are there and the Government must do all it can to support them.

Let’s hope that the Government will now deliver.

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