The national regeneration programme should be wound down and the money distributed according to need. The funding re-distribution should not be restricted to re-generation funding, but should also include government spending designed to get people back to work, such as the New Deal funding streams. The thinktank, Policy Exchange, believes that there is widespread expertise in the British re-generation industry, but much of it is misdirected and it sets out a case for devolution in its report ‘Cities Unlimited’.
The report argues that there is a role for experts, but they are there to inform not to decide. When people feel disempowered they stop thinking for themselves. They reduce their levels of engagement with civil society, and this is worrying on both an economic and societal level.
The case for devolution put forward in the report claims that it would lead to diversity, and diversity generates evidence, which is the cornerstone of good policymaking. It would also lead to solutions being more closely tailored to the wishes and requirements of local areas. This in turn, would allow the generation of new ideas from within the community. There is good evidence that when people are involved in setting their own priorities and feel that they have a genuine input into the way their area is run, they are happier.
The proposed new funding stream would not have strings attached. Local councils would not be answerable to central government for how they spent it; instead they would be accountable to local voters through the ballot box.