English devolution ‘could boost economy by £144bn’

3 Mar 15

Devolution in England could add £144bn a year to the UK economy by 2020 by handing powers and funds to local enterprise partnerships, according to a report from Localis.

Yesterday, the think-tank published a poll of more than 150 local business and council leaders asking them to forecast the size of their local economies by 2020.

Aggregate responses from the poll estimated that the size of the economy in 2020 could total £1.6 trillion if the present level of devolution is maintained. However, if LEPs get what they ask for the size of the economy could increase to £1.744trn.

Localis’s Next LEPs report called on the next government to devolve £12bn each year, six times the £2bn a year of Whitehall funding that is currently devolved to LEPs.

The report also called for a ‘dual lock’ approach where both council leaders and the LEP have to sign-off on annual budgets to boost democratic oversight.

Alex Thomson, chief executive of Localis, said: ‘The key finding of the report is that LEPs need to remain nimble and unbureaucratic, while retaining their crucial strategic input into local economies.

‘Our research shows that they have the potential to make a massive impact on our national economy in the next parliament if they get the devolution they’re looking for.’

The report also calls for the Skills Funding Agency to be abolished and for £4bn in skills funding to be devolved to LEP level so training and education programmes can be tailored to help local supply best meet local demand.

  • Judith Ugwumadu

    Judith Ugwumadu joined Public Finance International and Public Finance online as a reporter after stints at Financial Adviser, Global Security Finance and The Sunday Express. Currently, she writes about public finance, public services and economics.

    Follow her on @JudithUgwumadu_

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