Laura Sharman 01 July 2015

Fifth of councils predict they will be in a combined authority in five years

More than one in five local authorities expect to become part of a new combined authority by 2020, according to a new report into decentralisation.

The report, published by PwC, found council bosses believe there will be further decentralisation by 2020, but warned barriers such as elected mayors and financial pressures remain.

Delivering the Decentralisation Dividend: a whole system approach also argues that too much focus on governance reforms could come at the expense of delivering improved outcomes.

Jonathan House, government & public sector partner at PwC, said: ‘The emergence of new combined authorities - with delegated central government functions and responsibility for delivering economic regeneration, integrating health and care and reforming services from housing to transport - is beginning to resonate with elected representatives and citizens.

‘However, decentralisation cannot be an end in itself; it must have a clear focus on delivering improved outcomes; it needs to be multi-speed and driven fastest by those areas with the appetite to take on additional powers and responsibilities; and it will take time to develop local capacity and embed a culture of “decentralisation by design”.’

The report says that decentralisation could help balance the economy with inclusive growth, improve public service and make services more accountable. However, it also says it presents the target local investment on interventions that support the growth of the local economy.

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