This roundtable-style discussion asked what the role is for each level of economic management (from councils, MCAs to subnational bodies and the government) in enabling a post-covid-19 agenda that can create a foundation for inclusive recovery and sustainable, inclusive growth. This private event brought together leading practitioners, policy makers and thinkers and draws on insight from recent Metro Dynamics’ research on the lessons learned so far on established and emerging sub-national bodies. The conversation fed into live policy and institutional development on levelling up, as well as wider regional structures and powers in the Devolution White Paper (expected in Autumn 2020).
The aim was to collectively consider how we can respond to the needs of the current crisis and create a platform for sustainable and inclusive regional growth in the future. We addressed the ways in which we can create a more coherent system of local, regional and national economic governance to level up the economy and drive an inclusive recovery and how to complete the devolution process across England, both filling the gaps and deepening its reach. Other key questions included:
What should subnational bodies be for and what principles ought to apply to distinguish them from combined authorities? Should subnational bodies be formalised with greater statutory powers, and what might these powers entail? What delivery, accountability and legitimacy risks are there, and how can these be mitigated? How can we ensure structural and institutional reform translates into real economic and social outcomes, particularly in places hardest hit by Covid-19 and – before that – decades of government policy failure on regional growth and inequalities? How might sub-national bodies be pitched to capture the public imagination and generate cross-sector buy-in?