understood this and, the morning after the result, when declaring the
need for a “new and fair settlement” he said:
“It is also important we have wider civic engagement
about how to improve governance in our United Kingdom,
including how to empower our great cities – and we will say
more about this in the coming days⁶.”
Two months later, the first devolution deal was announced between
the government and Manchester. Other deals began to follow.
Why the speed of adoption? It is difficult to disagree with the
Institute for Government’s assessment in its excellent paper Making
devolution deals work:
1. Strong institutional leadership.
“It was clear that this process was to be led by HM Treasury.
Previous efforts to decentralise have foundered because their
sponsoring department did not have the necessary clout
to compel other departments to give up power. Having a
strong department, such as the Treasury, leading the charge
greatly improved this initiative’s prospects for success.
Alongside this focus from the Treasury, a reformed and
cross-departmental Cities and Local Growth Unit emerged,
with the purpose of providing both support and challenge
functions around devolution proposals for local areas and
Whitehall departments. Increasingly, this unit has worked
closely with an expanded team within the Treasury, who lead
on centre-local negotiations and the evaluation of different
2. Strong political leadership.
“The devolution agenda, and the ‘Northern Powerhouse’
⁶ David Cameron, speech directly after the result of the Scottish Referendum
⁷ Institute for Government, Making devolution deals work, January 2016