The state of the North: Setting a baseline for the devolution decade

Published Thu 13 Nov 2014
Marking 10 years since the launch of IPPR North, this report highlights the most important trends in the north of England over the last decade. Looking at economic growth and productivity, investment, public services and welfare, housing, demographics and political attitudes, it gives an overview of the North's successes, challenges and future prospects.

While the north of England continues to face a number of challenges, particularly since the global recession, and fares badly relative to other English and European cities and regions in some key respects, there are also reasons for optimism. Prior to the recession, most parts of the North kept pace with average rates of economic growth on many counts; its structural problems are slowly being corrected, and certain places show signs of real prosperity and innovation. There is also a strong sense that while we know the ingredients of success, they now need to be brought together both nationally and locally. 

Providing a comprehensive and extensively illustrated digest of how the North has fared over the past decade, this report paints a complex and varied picture of a region facing deep and abiding challenges – challenges which, although they have been deepened by recession and spending cuts, can be overcome if the right approaches to policy and subnational governance are adopted. Its recommendations focus on:

  • promoting economic development by devolving power over economic policy levers, and promoting more collaboration between northern regions in order to better compete in the global economy
  • the devolution of key administrative, fiscal and political functions of government within England, offering different powers and responsibilities to different parts of subnational government over a 10-year period, while also reforming the architecture of subnational governance, including through a new wave of combined authorities
  • devolving genuine fiscal autonomy to enable city-regions to invest in sustainable growth opportunities and retain the proceeds of growth through 'earn back' and tax increment finance arrangements; business rates and a proportion of income tax should also be assigned locally, and there should be a root-and-branch review of land and property taxes.
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