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East Midlands Chamber News

PwC launches network to support devolution growth

Matt HammondPwC has announced a UK-wide initiative to advise and support organisations and authorities on devolution and regional economic growth.

Led by Stephanie Hyde, PwC Executive Board Head of Regions, the Devo Delivery Network has more than 350 local and central government experts and specialist advisers spread across PwC’s 31 UK regional offices.

The Devo Delivery Network draws on PwC’s international and national experience in advising public and private sector organisations on regional economic strategy, tax, finance-raising and public sector modernisation and reform.

PwC is already working with a number of local and combined authorities, including advising the West Midlands Combined Authority Programme Office since April this year.

Announcing the initiative, PwC Head of Regions Stephanie Hyde said that the acceleration of devolution has fueled demand for a single source for specialist advice and guidance: “Over the past five years, we’ve seen devolution from central government to local regions rise up the political agenda; over the next five, devolution will begin to drive the UK growth agenda.

“But the very nature of devolution is that there is no one-size-fits-all blueprint. Regional settlements are determined by a combination of local need, the strength of the case and Westminster’s confidence in the ability of local politicians, citizens and business to deliver.

“The recent ONS figures indicate that rebalancing the UK regional economies remains challenging and we’ve launched the Devo Delivery Network to encourage debate, collaboration and engagement and to support and showcase best practice in the development and delivery of devolution deals.”

Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) indicate that regional cities including Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle, and Greater Manchester have seen improved GVA growth, but the prosperity gap between London and the regions remains.

PwC’s recent Good Growth for Cities report set out the potential role devolution can play in unleashing the potential of UK plc and closing the prosperity gap between regional cities and London.

The PwC Devo Delivery Network follows last year’s City Growth Commission report, Unleashing Metro Growth which concluded that devolving powers from Whitehall to city regions could boost economic output in the UK’s 15 largest metropolitan areas (see notes) by £79bn a year - around five per cent of GDP. The West Midlands is one of the most recent devolution settlements, following on from Greater Manchester, Sheffield city region, the north-east Tees Valley, Cornwall and Liverpool.

Matthew Hammond, regional chairman of PwC in the Midlands said: “As we now move from strategy to delivery, the focus is on investment and interventions to drive the regional economy and support growth, as well as redesigning services to improve outcomes. The West Midlands is a region that works together collaboratively across Local Authority and LEP boundaries, and while councils are undoubtedly under financial pressures, there has never been a better opportunity for local leaders to really deliver for their local communities and economy.

“Our team at PwC in the Midlands has been advising the West Midlands Combined Authority Programme Office over the past six months, but negotiating a devolution settlement is just the beginning. Delivering successful devolution is a very different challenge that demands very different skills, and this new Devo Delivery Network will support local players in driving the economy of the region further forward."