Research published today by a leading think-tank shows that centralisation has allowed England to develop the worst regional inequalities in the developed world. It finds that despite being home to just a third of people in England, almost half (47%) of the increase in jobs in the last decade was in London and the South East.

Crucially, they find that these regional economic divides do not benefit people in London either. Londoners face the highest rates of income inequality in the country, as well as the highest rate of poverty in England with 28% of people in the capital trapped in relative poverty, after housing costs.

The IPPR North report says that this Parliament must be the “Devolution Parliament” to truly “level up” the country with a four-year programme that puts power and resources into towns, cities and regions across England.

Levelling up can only be achieved by putting mayors and local leaders in the driving seat, researchers argue. And the government must open the door to devolution across England, while letting places like Greater Manchester, West Midlands and London take on more power too.

Responding to the report by IPPR North, which calls on the Government to deliver a ‘devolution parliament’, Sir Richard Leese, Chair of the Local Government Association’s City Regions Board, said:

“There is clear and significant evidence that the country gets better value for money when decisions over investment and how to run local services are taken closer to communities and businesses.

“As this report shows, with the right powers and funding, devolution can lay the foundations for a more inclusive and prosperous economy across the whole of England.  

“Democratically-elected councils are best placed to support the Government in seizing the opportunities for growth in the years ahead. They also make a huge difference to their communities by building desperately-needed new homes, creating jobs and providing care for older and disabled people.

“We urge the Government to publish its promised Devolution White Paper as soon as possible, and to reignite the process of handing councils the freedom and resources they need to get on and deliver for their communities.”

Olwen Brown, Partner at Anthony Collins Solicitors, who co-sponsored the report with the Local Government Association, comments:

“I’m delighted that we have been able to support the publication of this excellent and highly topical report.  This is an incredibly important matter for not just local authorities, but also for the communities they serve.  Since the second world war political and economic power in England has been concentrated more and more at the centre and we have seen the results in the North/South divide and the damaging divisions the report speaks of.  The results of local elections last May showed that there is a revived interest in true localism, with local politicians wanting to have local power restored and strengthened; with true and local democratic accountability to local communities and residents devolved at an appropriate scale.  This will be a very interesting time and this report is a great contribution to the debate.”

Further information 

For further details about the IPPR report, please contact Rosie Lockwood, Media and Campaigns Manager for IPPR North, on 0161 694 9688 or r.lockwood@ippr.org.