Westminster Social Policy Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +044 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.

Next steps for devolution and growth deals in England - regional governance, economic development and attracting investment

Morning, Tuesday, 24th November 2020

Online Conference

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will be an opportunity to discuss the future for devolution in England and the potential for future regional growth deals.

Key areas for discussion include:

  • next steps for devolution in England and how future devolution deals will progress and look,
  • economic sustainability of devolved regions - how they can attract investment and work with local industrial strategies to promote growth, and
  • priorities for renewing and enhancing local infrastructure.

We also expect discussion on what further support is needed to support local and combined authorities to effectively deliver services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Developments that are relevant to the discussion:

The seminar is timed to assess:

  • the planned English Devolution White Paper - expected to lay out Government’s strategy for more devolution deals, metro mayors and devolved powers across the country,
  • new transport plans for mayoral authorities announced in the Budget - including £4.2bn for urban transport over five years, once mayors and government agree on individual delivery plans,
  • what the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, the replacement for EU Structural Funding, and the forthcoming National Infrastructure Strategy will mean for regions across England,
  • the impact of the now delayed government Comprehensive Spending Review - due to outline departmental spending plans for the next three years,
  • issues raised in the relaunched Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee Progress of Devolution in England inquiry - formed to analyse:
    • the results so far,
    • the ‘region by region’ implementation strategy, and
    • how the benefits of devolution can be maximised moving forward.
  • the recent government announcement of further support for local authorities as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The discussion in detail:

  • The Devolution White Paper - with sessions looking at:
    • the outlook for devolution deals across England at different stage of development,
    • what can be learnt from existing devolution deals,
    • how best to encourage collaboration between local authorities and support local economies.
    • priorities for investment, budgetary control and decision-making powers.
  • Coordination and collaboration - including:
    • how best to link further devolution with the third wave of Local Industrial Strategies, and
    • what more can be done to promote collaboration between local authority and business leaders.
  • Maximising economic impact - particularly how devolution and growth deals can work to support the delivery of services - looking at strategies for:
    • attracting investment into English regions,
    • utilising the potential of the Shared Prosperity Fund,
    • ensuring local skills provision meets employer need, and
    • lifting productivity levels.
  • Local infrastructure  - and how it can be enhanced, in the context of a range of policies detailed in the Budget including:
    • the five-year transport plans for combined authorities beginning in 2022-2023,
    • the National Bus Strategy expected later this year; and
    • major investment into improving gigabit-capable broadband connections in areas across the UK.

The agenda:

  • Assessing the current landscape for devolution in England;
  • Case study: the story of devolution so far - the lessons learned and how it should inform for future policy;
  • Priorities for enabling future devolution in England - collaboration, devolved powers and greater budgetary control;
  • Opportunities for devolution in supporting regional development - attracting investment, implementing local industrial strategies, and enhancing local infrastructure; and
  • Delivering devolution and growth deals across England - the policy outlook.

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

This is looking no different. Places have been reserved by officials from BEIS; the Cities and Local Growth Unit and HM Treasury.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Ed Wagstaff

Deputy Director, Cities and Local Growth Unit

Professor Joyce Liddle

Director, Research and Knowledge Exchange, Newcastle Business School


Rt Hon the Lord Paul Tyler


Laura Shoaf

Managing Director, Transport for West Midlands

Cllr Sean Fielding

Leader, Oldham Council

Sean Hanson

Chief Executive, Local Partnerships

Simon Edwards

Director, County Councils Network

Deborah Fraser

Director, Regions, Confederation of British Industry

Dean Cook

Head of Regional Engagement, Innovate UK