While the exact scope of devolution agreements may vary between local authorities, the ongoing dialogue can help strengthen relationships and drive demand for more shared knowledge and practices
By Alan Mo
Although the 2015 General Election gave us a rather surprising result, one of the more predictable elements was each main party's stance on the issue of further devolution to local areas in England. It was clear from the manifestos that more freedom and autonomy was on the cards, but the pace has certainly picked up since the Conservatives secured a slender majority back in May 2015.
A total of 38 devolution bids were submitted in September 2015 - signed by 335 different local public services organisations, with more expected to be brought onboard in the future. What's important to consider is that our figures show that these organisations have a combined annual ICT spend of £2.46bn, so the prospect for any pooling of resources should be important to current and aspiring suppliers.
With the 'devolution momentum' slowly gathering pace, local government suppliers will need to develop new propositions to better meet the needs of such regional groupings. Although some areas are still negotiating the exact scope and scale of devolution ambitions, the ongoing dialogue can help strengthen relationships and drive demand for more shared knowledge and practices.
We feel this will increase the long-term attractions of joint procurement and shared services, albeit on a piecemeal basis.
Over time, the importance of improving systems interoperability will also grow. In the short term, systems consolidation could start in the focus areas of transport and planning, as councils take advantage of natural wastage and contract ends to create shared strategic functions.
To help suppliers get up to speed, we've recently completed a short report that provides an overview of the 'devolution momentum' that has been slowly gathering pace. This includes a quick re-cap of the City Deals, Regional Growth Fund, the Growing Places Fund and the Growth Deals, before a short analysis of the more recent devolution bids and agreements.
The full report is available to subscribers here.