Tomorrow the City Growth Commission launches its final report, Unleashing Metro Growth
There we bring together the themes and ideas that have developed throughout the course of our 12-month independent. Our aim was to consider how we raise the trend rate of UK growth, generating prosperity for all by harnessing the power of our city-regions.
Our research has taken us far and wide, engaging with government, business, academia and civil society organisations across the UK. We covered a range of ideas, including skills and enterprise, infrastructure and connectivity and fiscal devolution. Seen primarily through our economic lens, the Commission’s work has touched on intricacies of local and central government relationships and politics, constitutional reform and Whitehall structural and culture change.
As Secretary to the Commission, it has been an incredible journey. Bringing together a fantastic team at the RSA to deliver an extensive evidence and engagement programme; six interim reports, and – this week – the final report. Along the way, we’ve had encouragement from senior national and local political figures and have seen some of our ideas already incorporated into government policy. By June, just after the half way mark, the Commission had had more impact and influence than I had hoped it might achieve overall. My challenge then became one of pushing the ambition of the agenda further still; we had to keep leading from the front.
While the Scottish referendum brought the UK devolution debate to public awareness – and to an unprecedented degree in recent years – the final report develops concepts long in train within leading cities and even pockets of Whitehall. The Commission has sought to take these concepts to the next level, offering a route map for differentiated devolution over time.
Close followers of the City Growth Commission aren’t likely to be surprised by the nature or tone of our recommendations. We set out to be bold and, if delivered, our recommendations will represent a significant shift in power from the centre to our metros – unleashing their potential to grow and thrive. I’m looking forward to the launch tomorrow. It is the culmination of a lot of hard work, train travel and deep, enriching discussion and debate. But once we have presented our findings tomorrow, we will then look to metros to drive forward their visions for city-led growth. We will need to ensure this government and the next stays true to their promises of devolution to city-regions. And then keep pushing for more.