Whitehall departments should be moved out of London to such cities as Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield and Leeds. There should also be a radical decentralisation of national institutions such as the judiciary, and bodies such as the Arts Council and the Research Councils. Without such a radical approach the North – South divide will not be reversed and the Government’s regional policies will fail. This is the main message in ‘Practical Policies for the Redistribution of Wealth, Power and Opportunity’, a report from the think tank Catalyst.The report argues that policies of “downward” devolution to regional bodies fail to recognise that regional disadvantage is the product of a long history of imbalanced inter-regional relations and the profound spatial concentration of power. The project led by Sir Michael Lyons to investigate the scope for relocating to the regions 20,000 of the 144,000civil service jobs currently in London and the South East is seen as an inadequate response to the issue.
The report sets out a case for combating the London-bias of the national policy framework and the redistribution of economic activity and institutional capacity away from the South East. This would amount to a re-imagination of the UK as a “multi-nodal nation” with “no special centre”. and redistribute economic activity and institutional capacity away from the South East. Measures to achieve this would include extending the Community Investment Tax to the whole of the North of England, extending neighbourhood regeneration schemes, and reducing sales taxes for firms in the North.