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Devolution and the North

Date: Wednesday 30 November 2016
Venue: Charles Street Building

The first SIPS Policy Forum of the academic year, organised in partnership with the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR), is taking place between 4pm and 6pm on Wednesday November 30th in the Charles Street Building in Sheffield Hallam University's City Campus. The seminar, which will be chaired by Professor Peter Wells from CRESR, will be on the topic of 'devolution and the north'. 

The Unfinished Business of Devolution: SIPS Policy Forum

Devolution in different guises has been a feature of the UK political landscape for the last twenty years. However, since 2010 it has taken a new turn, focusing on the development of economically competitive city regions, but also on the devolution of new powers and funding; most notably the six-billion pound spending on health and social care to Greater Manchester. In a period of prolonged public expenditure austerity devolution is seen by local authorities and other bodies to represent the only opportunity to advance the social and economic wellbeing of local people. To some extent there is little alternative.

This SIPS policy forum comes together to assess the current state of devolution.  It will discuss the prospects for further devolution in the UK and ask what the key priorities should be for elected mayors across England. The forum draws on practitioner responses from local authorities and academic research on issues such as inclusive growth and the role of elected members. The forum will include three short presentations followed by a longer discussion. Our presentations are from:

• Dr David Etherington, from the University of Middlesex is giving a presentation entitled: The Northern Powerhouse devolution and the politics of austerity The presentation summarises the key findings of a study - "Devolution and Disadvantage in the Sheffield City Region An Assessment of Employment, Skills and Welfare Policies." This study examines how devolution policies, framed by the Northern Powerhouse strategy have impacted on disadvantage in the Sheffield City Region. The focus of the presentation is the relationship between devolution and austerity exploring the way devolution strategies are providing the framework and vehicle for the implementation of major cuts in funding to welfare benefits, employment and skills. The presentation explores how austerity undermines and hinders growth as well as exacerbates social inequalities.

• Claire Elliott from Wakefield Council is giving a presentation entitled: Devolution: Opportunities, Challenges and Threats. The presentation will focus on practical experiences of developing the devolution agenda within West Yorkshire from both a local and a sub-regional perspective. The complexity of geography, the core city versus key city dynamic and the various political drivers are just some of the issues that will be covered.

• Dr Richard Crisp from Sheffield Hallam University is giving a presentation entitled: Can devolution deliver inclusive growth? This presentation will examine how the notion of inclusive growth is gaining traction and how, within this agenda, devolution is seen as central to ensuring the proceeds of growth are better shared among those ‘left behind’. It will critically explore the notion of inclusive growth and its prospects, suggesting the weight of expectation on devolution to resolve unbalanced growth and redress social and spatial inequalities is too high. 

If you would like to attend this event, please register your place at

Best wishes,
Peter Wells and Paul Hickman
Sheffield Institute for Policy Studies

Dr Richard Crisp is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University. Since joining CRESR, he has led and worked on projects for a range of organisations, including central government departments, local authorities, research charities and Third Sector bodies. Richard is currently directing an evidence review of the impact of regeneration on poverty for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. He is also leading a two-year evaluation of the Volunteering for Stronger Communities programme funded through the Big Lottery Fund. In addition, Richard is a team member of evaluations of the reforms to Local Housing Allowance for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Talent Match programme to tackle youth unemployment on behalf of the Big Lottery Fund. He was previously involved in the National Evaluation of the New Deal for Communities Programme which was commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and ran until 2010.

Clare Elliott is Service Manager – Policy, Partnerships, Performance and Projects at Wakefield Council. After starting her local government career on the National Graduate Development Programme, Clare went on to work at a West Yorkshire level for the following five years, initially supporting sub-regional collaboration through her management of the Association of West Yorkshire Authorities and latterly in a senior policy role at the Combined Authority having played a pivotal role in its establishment. Since returning to Wakefield Council in January 2015, Clare has managed the Council’s policy unit and strategic partnerships function and recently assumed responsibility for performance and corporate projects and programmes. Key ongoing agendas include Good Growth, public service innovation, devolution and Brexit.

Dr. David Etherington is Principal Researcher in the Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research, (CEEDR) Middlesex University. His main interests relates to employment, skills and labour market policies. David has successfully completed a variety of research projects including for the European Commission, Department of Work and Pensions and research grant funded projects including British Academy and ESRC (WISERD). In addition to his current research with Professor Martin Jones, David recently completed (2013-2015 ) work on ESRC funded research, led by Dr Anne Daguerre in the Business School, on the 'Politics of conditional rights in social policy in the United States of America (USA) and the United Kingdom (UK)'. David is an active member of the International Initiative for the Promotion of Political Economy (IIPPE) (Co –convenor of the Poverty Working Group) and ‘Fairness Champion’ as part of Sheffield City Council Fairness Commission. David has been appointed  to the Research Advisory Group of the Royal Society of Arts Inclusive Growth Commission.

Professor Martin Jones is Director of the White Rose Social Science Doctoral Training Centre (WRDTC)—an ESRC-funded consortium between the Universities of Sheffield, Leeds and York—and Professor of Urban and Regional Political Economy. Martin has published widely in International peer review Journals the role of political economy, re-conceptualized the complex interrelationships between state spatiality and political strategy within the social sciences, and brought policy relevance to human geography. Martin is currently leading on a Wales Institute of Social Economic Research and Data Methods (WISERD)/Civil Society ESRC-funded Research Centre, (2015-2017) on ‘Spaces of New Localism—Stakeholder Engagement and Economic Development in Wales and England.’ Martin is the originator and co-editor of the journal Territory, Politics, Governance, plays an active role in learned societies through the Regional Studies Association. Martin has been appointed  to the Research Advisory Group of the Royal Society of Arts Inclusive Growth Commission.

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