RSA: English towns need levelling-up with cities on devolution

Towns and rural areas in England must benefit from the next wave of devolution alongside cities, with a majority of all people in England wanting greater local decision-making, according to a poll carried out by Populus for the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA)

Boris Johnson plans to devolve more powers from central government to local government, especially in the ‘red wall’ – historically Labour supporting seats in the north and Midlands.  

Meanwhile Labour leadership candidate Lisa Nandy has said towns must control issues like public transport and Keir Starmer has called for English regions to have more powers in a federal United Kingdom.

Two-thirds of English people live in areas without an elected Mayor, but there is a lack of agreement between central and local governments over whether this should be a requirement. This means rural areas, towns and smaller cities in England risk being left-behind on growth, public sector investment and the freedom to develop local solutions to problems, the RSA warns. 

The RSA calls for the government to proceed with new devolution deals across England, but push for greater innovation from councils in how they involve residents in decisions, arguing participatory budgeting, community engagement processes, citizen juries, deliberative polling, citizen inquiries and focus group could all be used much more by councils.

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The RSA - RSA: English towns need levelling-up with cities on devolution


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