4. ENGLISH DEVOLUTION: THE
COMBINED AUTHORITY MODEL
Before exploring how we came to the Combined Authority model, it is
worth stating again the value and power of devolution¹.
The situation is, and remains, clear. Many of the UK’s major cities
have underperformed economically for decades, falling progressively
behind the rest of the national economy and many international
competitors, especially with regard to rates of productivity.
There is no single solution to tackling these economic challenges.
If our great city-regions are once again to become the engines of
economic growth for our country, it will require long-term and
enduring partnership work between the private sector and all levels
of government, ensuring that city-regions have: a good supply of
skilled labour; are well connected; have land available for homes
and employment; have rich, innovation ecosystems, often built
around a university; and have an attractive cultural offer for their
Effective leadership across city-regions, with the right mix of powers
and funding at the appropriate spatial level, can generate greater
allocative and productive efficiencies, creating an economic dividend
l better tailoring of policies to local conditions
l exploiting synergies through better local coordination of different
l encouraging greater policy innovation through local trialling of
¹ Sources relied upon: OECD, The Metropolitan Century (2015); A Pure Theory of Local
Expenditures, Tiebout (1956); Fiscal Federalism, Oates (1972); On the ‘economic dividend’ of
devolution, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose and Nicholas Gill (2005); Regional decentralization and fiscal
incentives: federalism, Chinese style, Jin, Qian and Weingast (2005); UK Government Industrial
Strategy (2017); OECD Economic and demographic trends in cities (2015); OECD What makes cities
more productive? Evidence of the role of urban governance from five OECD countries; OECD Reducing
regional disparities in the United Kingdom (2018).