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Implementation of Heseltine proposals will be the key test for Government says Institute
The Institute for Government welcomes the Government’s response to Lord Heseltine’s report No Stone Unturned.
Julian McCrae, Deputy Director of the Institute, said:
"The Government is right to recognise that local economic areas (city regions) could contribute a great deal more to the country’s growth if they were given greater control over local skills, transport and housing budgets. The Government is also right to highlight that decentralisation will only work if there is strong governance at the local level that can be held accountable. We believe that this will be best achieved with clear democratic accountability at the city-region level, for example through visible, locally elected mayors.
"A more confident, strategic centre of Whitehall is necessary to support growth, a point made by Lord Heseltine and echoed in the recent report of the LSE Growth Commission. It is good to see that the government recognises the need to transform Whitehall processes in support of growth too. However, it is unclear at present whether the detail of the government’s response matches up to the vision set out by Lord Heseltine.
"As the government response says, civil servants will need to adapt to a world where they working in more devolved systems, even more closely with businesses and local services. However, our recent study on this clearly showed that there is more work to do to ensure excellent commercial and commissioning skills in the civil service can match the ambition. So the Government is right to recognise the valuable expertise that the non-executive directors bring to Whitehall, given that many have strong commercial experience.
"The key test will be whether these reforms are implemented and genuinely improve government’s effectiveness in supporting growth. The Institute will be watching this closely."