East Midlands Devolution: A regional moment of opportunity

Written by

Rebecca Langton


Despite the government talking about ‘levelling up’ for some years now, regional economic disparities in England remain amongst the largest in the developed world.  Power and prosperity remain centralised in the South and South East, whilst our regional economies are not meeting their full potential. Rather than a nation powering on all cylinders, we are over reliant on our capital city to deliver.

Our regions have the desire, skills, and ability to contribute more. They need the powers and investment to reach their full potential. Devolution is one way that we start to make this happen. We’ve seen the impact of devolution in places like Greater Manchester, with investment booming and a national voice for our nation’s Northern Powerhouse. But for our economy to perform as best as it can, we need all our regions to thrive.

For too long, the East Midlands has been left behind in conversations about devolution. The Devolution Deal agreed for Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham, and Nottinghamshire is a positive step on a long road to levelling up our regional economies and putting the East Midlands firmly on the map as a great place to live, work, invest and do business.

It’s exciting and the numbers are significant. £1.14 billion will now be spent on the priorities determined by the region through a new regional mayor, rather than by Whitehall. Although when you break this down over 30 years and 2.2 million people, its just £17 per person. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great place to start. It’s exciting to hear the East Midlands talked about as a place of opportunity.

Add to this, the recent announcement in the budget about a new Investment Zone and the UK’s only inland Freeport. Together with the new Combined Authority, they present our region with a moment of opportunity.

They show that the East Midlands is open for business. It’s ready for investment. Amongst politicians, communities, businesses and investors, there’s excitement about what’s next for the East Midlands. This moment of opportunity is one not to miss.

The first mayoral elections in May 2024 will be ones to watch closely. With Labour on the up and the particular political geography of the area covered by the deal, there’s a very good chance that a high-profile Labour candidate could be the first Mayor of the East Midlands. Even before they are elected, the shadow Combined Authority will launch imminently. This moment of opportunity for the East Midlands is a great time for businesses in our region to shape the policy agenda and demonstrate their commitment to maximising the potential of this step towards levelling up prosperity across the UK.

Find out more about the BECG Midlands team here.


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