RSA Taunton: The opportunities and problems of devolution in England

Fellowship Event


Creative Innovation Centre CIC, Taunton

  • Fellowship

Join us for a discussion on devolution and local government.

In the early years of this century, the UK Government, proposed a form of devolution to the then 10 English Regions. The RSA, organised a project to examine the costs and benefits of devolution to the South West Region. The main conclusion of this project was that, unless the Treasury was prepared to devolve money as well as powers to the Region, the devolution would not be beneficial or successful. Subsequently the Government held a vote in the North East Region which went heavily against devolution. Thereafter Government lost interest in pursuing the issue.

The recent Coalition Government produced a White Paper (The Implications of Devolution for England, Cd 8969, December 2014) setting out various proposals for devolution, and the Government of 2015 to 2017 offered opportunities for various forms of local devolution of powers to metro regions, cities and a County. The present Government continues to offer local devolution arrangements. The form of devolution and the powers proposed to be passed down differ from case to case.

The nature of this piecemeal approach raises all manner of questions as to whether some parts of England will remain to be governed from central Government, whilst others have a variety of powers decided locally in different ways. A recent publication (Federalism: The UK’s Future, April 2016, The Federal Trust for Education and Research) sets out the effect of this ‘case by case’ devolution and shows how individuals in different parts of the country will be governed by different levels of hierarchy involving UK Parliament, County, District and Parish Councils, single tier Councils and Metro Councils, Mayors and Parish Meetings.

It looks as though this form of devolution may well require a major involvement of central administration to make it work and is clearly a prescription for additional expense, muddle, especially amongst the public, and lack of clear responsibility. It also raises the question of how those areas not covered by some form of devolution, largely the more rural areas, will relate to those which are covered, and whether the excluded areas will be at a disadvantage.

Come along and join us for what promises to be an evening of insightful discussions over the opportunities and problems arising from devolution in England.


Location: Creative Innovation Centre CIC

Memorial Hall, Paul Street, Taunton, TA1 3PF

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