Decentralisation is firmly in the sights of politicians nationally and locally in the UK, but is it really possible for government to ‘let go’ in such a centralised political culture?
As part of our work with IPPR on the ‘Decentralisation Decade’ we have refreshed our 2009 research exploring who the public hold accountable for public services and for the economy.
Our new research reinforces our 2009 findings: if real powers are transferred to highly accountable bodies then public perceptions of responsibility will change. The public tends to have a relatively good awareness of whether particular bodies have the powers to act in a particular area. But real accountability depends on fully aligning decision-making, budgets and delivery when decentralising.
There are three important implications for those seeking to decentralise:
If perceptions of accountability are to shift, communications and engagement are essential. Building the case for change and engaging the public in the debate on accountability is, therefore, an essential step if we are to deliver a Decentralisation Decade.