How metro mayors can help level up England

Think tank: Institute for Government

Author(s): Akash Paun; Alex Nice; Lucy Rycroft

June 18, 2022

This report from UK think tank the Institute for Government looks at devolving more powers over spending to metro mayors will help leaders level up England. 

The UK government must devolve fuller powers and greater flexibility over spending to metro mayors so that these local leaders can help level up England. The government rightly recognises that top-down action will not be enough to make levelling up succeed, but existing devolution arrangements hamstring the mayors and limit their ability to improve local economic and social outcomes – which is precisely what the government wants them to do. The report argues that England’s metro mayors – first elected five years ago in Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and other city-regions – have demonstrated that devolution works. The mayors have improved coordination and provided a strong voice for their regions, but a lack of real power means unrealistic expectations have been set for what metro mayors can achieve and what they can be held to account for. Accelerating devolution also means overhauling the way the centre of government works and how it engages with mayors and other local leaders.