Devolution of political power, the process of transferring decision-making authority from central governments to regional or local authorities, has long been seen as a way to improve community cohesion. By giving communities more control over their own affairs, devolution can help to foster a sense of ownership and responsibility among local residents. This, in turn, can lead to greater participation in the political process and a stronger sense of belonging.
One of the key benefits of devolution is that it enables communities to tailor their policies and services to their own unique needs and priorities. This can be particularly important for disadvantaged or marginalized communities that may have been neglected by central governments. By empowering these communities to make their own decisions, devolution can help to reduce social and economic inequality and promote more inclusive growth. In this way conservativism is inherently on the say of the most socially dispossessed.
Devolution can also help to improve community cohesion by fostering greater collaboration and partnership between different levels of government. This can lead to more coordinated and effective policy-making, as well as increased accountability and transparency. In addition, devolution can create opportunities for communities to learn from each other and share best practices, leading to more innovative and effective solutions to local challenges.
Despite these benefits, however, devolution can also present some challenges. In particular, there may be concerns about the capacity of local authorities to manage complex policy areas, as well as issues related to inter-jurisdictional coordination and financing. However these challenges can be addressed through effective planning and implementation, as well as through the provision of adequate support and resources to local authorities.
By empowering communities to take control of their own affairs, devolution can help to foster a greater sense of ownership and responsibility among local residents, leading to more vibrant and resilient communities. In this Cameron’s BIG Society was correct albeit poorly delivered however Devolution of power to local communities whilst remaining connected to the centre can deliver very meaning results.
Here are some examples of the key successes of devolution in the UK:
- Improved local decision-making: In Scotland, devolution has allowed the Scottish Parliament to introduce policies and services that are tailored to the specific needs and priorities of the Scottish people. For example, the Scottish Parliament has introduced free higher education for Scottish residents and has implemented policies to reduce health inequalities.
- Enhanced collaboration and coordination: In Northern Ireland, devolution has facilitated greater collaboration and coordination between the Northern Ireland Executive and local councils, leading to more effective and efficient policy-making. For example, the Northern Ireland Executive has worked with local councils to develop a shared vision for the future of the region, which has helped to guide decision-making in key policy areas.
- Increased accountability and transparency: In Wales, devolution has given the Welsh Assembly more control over the policy areas that affect the people of Wales. This has increased accountability and transparency in the political process, as the Welsh Assembly is accountable to the people of Wales for the decisions it makes.
- Greater participation and engagement: In London, devolution has encouraged greater participation and engagement by local communities in the political process. For example, the London Mayor's Office has launched several initiatives to engage with local residents and businesses, including the "Talk London" platform, which provides a forum for Londoners to share their views on key issues.
- Economic benefits: In some cases, devolution has also led to economic benefits. For example, the Manchester City Region, West Midlands and the West of England Combined Authority have seen significant investment in local infrastructure, including the development of new transport links and the construction of new housing. This has created jobs and boosted the local economy.
But what do we need to make sure the these successes are consistent and repeated rather than one off or ineffective?
- Adequate resources and funding: In order to carry out their responsibilities effectively, local authorities need access to adequate resources and funding. This may require additional support from central governments, as well as the development of new financing mechanisms. Here regional and event localized social investment funds are offering a exciting new opportunity to delivered infrastructure through socially conscious private entities.
- Capacity and expertise: Local authorities need to have the necessary capacity and expertise to manage complex policy areas and provide high-quality services to their communities. This may require investment in training and capacity-building programs for local officials. This should be budgeted for in devolution settlements to ensure that regions don’t go the same way as the BIG Society - good concept poor delivery.
- Strong institutional frameworks: Devolution can only work effectively if there are strong institutional frameworks in place to support it. This may include clear lines of responsibility and accountability, as well as mechanisms for coordination and collaboration between different levels of government. The West of England Combined Authority has fallen victim to the lack of accountability and requisite leadership to bring together the necessary stakeholders under the correct frameworks resulting in woeful underperformance for the region.
- Engagement and participation: Devolution is most effective when it is driven by the needs and priorities of local communities. This requires active engagement and participation by local residents in the decision-making process. This could be achieved through mechanism such as citizen assemblies or more organically but no less purposefully though elected councilors equipped to do the job.
- Flexibility and adaptability: Devolution is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and local authorities need to be able to adapt to changing circumstances and respond to the unique needs of their communities. This requires a certain degree of flexibility and adaptability in the devolution process. There ought to be an ongoing and active dialogue between central government devolution investments and local authorities; Afterall the point ought to be to work as one unit contextualized to the local demographic.